Judge clears AT&T takeover of Time Warner

Judge clears AT&T takeover of Time Warner

The decision means the telecom giant will now control highly sought after programming - including Game of Thrones, the Harry Potter movie franchise, and CNN - as well as the infrastructure that delivers that content to tens of millions of living rooms televisions and smartphones.

The Justice Department argued that the merger between AT&T and Time Warner would introduce unfair advantages in the marketplace.

"This decision from Judge Leon will have broad ramifications for the tech, telecommunications and media sector for decades to come", Daniel Ives, the chief strategy officer at GBH Insights, told Business Insider in an email before the decision was handed down.

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Media executives increasingly say content creation and distribution must be married to survive against technology companies like Amazon and Netflix.

A merged AT&T-Time Warner could, in principle, refuse to supply content to some distributors in order to drive consumers to purchase its own access and content bundles, but it would not be in the merged company's financial interest to do so.

Corporate America had closely watched the case and the decision is likely to lead to more mergers.

Romania’s Simona Halep wins Roland Garros final
Romania's Simona Halep in action during the final against Sloane Stephens of the US, Roland Garros , Paris, France , June 9, 2018. Halep has also won both encounters played on clay in straight sets, including beating Stephens in the fourth round here in 2014.

Leon rejected the notion of temporarily suspending the merger for a possible appeal by the government. The company will now work to complete the merger by June 20th.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have raised questions about the Justice Department's motivations and the White House's influence in deciding to take the case to court. The company did cite opportunities to improve OTT profitability via newer product functionality looking forward (i.e.: "cloud DVR, more streams)". During Donald Trump's campaign for President in 2016, he said he would block the deal as President "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few". It claims about 25 million of the 90 million or so USA households that are pay-TV customers. A line formed outside the court several hours before Judge Leon was scheduled to issue his decision. AT&T and Time Warner will offer better-targeted ads to their customers, and as a result of all this, it's expected that prices will be lowered at some point.

As president, Trump has called the merger "not good for the country" and said he believed it would push pay-TV prices higher.

Those comments and his repeated criticism of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner's unit Turner Broadcasting, raised speculation that Trump had pushed Delrahim and the Justice Department to block the deal.

Judge Leon delivered his opinion in a closed courtroom packed with reporters and telecom industry-watchers. CNBC is reporting that Comcast will try to buy Twenty-First Century Fox if AT&T buys Time Warner.

AT&T Inc won approval from a U.S. court on Tuesday to buy Time Warner Inc for $85 billion, without conditions, allowing AT&T to compete with internet companies that dominate digital advertising and providing new sources of revenue.

During a six-week trial in March and April, the Justice Department argued that the proposed merger needed to be blocked because it would give AT&T too much leverage over competitors in the on-demand and streaming video market.

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