Trump administration fails to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

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The opinion comes 20 months after AT&T announced its plans to buy Time Warner in a transaction then worth nearly $85bn.

Leon described part of the government's case as "gossamer thin", saying that during the trial the Justice Department's expert witness declined to back some of the government's own theories.

A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday cleared the mega merger between AT&T and Time Warner in an antitrust case with potential far-reaching implications.

The case has drawn attention from all sides including Sling TV's President Warren Schlichting, who testified against the merger.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon green-lit the merger without adding major conditions to the deal. "It would be a lose/lose for us, and a win/win for them". "We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner".

Leon rejected the notion of temporarily suspending the merger for a possible appeal by the government.

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

Leon said the evidence and testimony provided by the government were faulty and that it never proved the merged entity would have increased leverage over its competitors.

When the trial ended, Judge Leon suggested the parties consider some remedies both could deal with depending on how he ruled.

"Judge OKs AT&T merger with Time Warner, rejecting government argument it would hurt pay-TV consumers, competition". Trump had pledged to block the deal when he was campaigning for president.

Some thought Trump had pressed for the lawsuit because of his animus toward Time Warner's CNN.

AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson argued the company's proposed $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner is necessary to compete against companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Even so, the case brought a year ago by the antitrust lawyers at Trump's Justice Department to block the AT&T and Time Warner marriage is an outlier.

The company plans to close the deal by June 20, according to a statement from AT&T's general counsel David McAtee. A loss for AT&T and Time Warner could have signaled a new era of government scrutiny over so-called "vertical mergers" and could have halted attempts by companies like Disney, Fox and Comcast to announce their own megadeals. It is, he said then, "a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in hands of too few".

With control over a significant portion of the content, AT&T is now in a good place to keep prices high among rivals and prevent streaming TV services from offering cut-price cable alternatives.

Leon also said it would be harmful for him to put a temporary stay on the merger while the government appeals his decision, if it does so. AT&T wasn't on board, saying, "Divestitures here would destroy the very consumer value this merger is created to unlock".

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