U.S. files suit to block US$85b AT&T-Time Warner merger

AT&T has reached an agreement in principle to buy Time Warner for $85bn- report

The Justice Department intends to sue AT&T to stop its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of the suit's official filing.

"The combination of AT&T [and] DirectTV's vast distribution infrastructure, and Time Warner's extremely popular television programming would be one of the largest mergers in American history", the official added. More recently, deal progress was delayed as the DOJ antitrust head, Makan Delrahim worked with AT&T on competitive remedies.

Monday's announcement comes two weeks after a controversy erupted publicly over whether AT&T would have to sell off CNN to sidestep government concerns about the company's plan to buy Time Warner.

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"Today's DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent", he said. In 2011, for example, the office affirmed a comparative arrangement - Comcast's obtaining of NBCUniversal - in the wake of forcing various conditions on the exchange. AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson countered those reports the next day, saying he'd never been under pressure from the DOJ to sell CNN. AT&T owns nationwide satellite provider DirecTV; Time Warner's channels also include TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and HBO.

"We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently", the statement said.

By testing the arrangement, the Justice Department is adopting a starkly unique strategy to antitrust issues than the Obama organization did. "We are sure that the court will dismiss the administration's cases and allow this merger under longstanding lawful point of reference".

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