AT&T can buy Time Warner as judge shuts down Department of Justice

Comcast readying new bid for 20th Century Fox film and TV assets

With Time Warner content in its arsenal, AT&T's nascent ad platform would help supplant lost cord-cutter business and thus keep down subscription prices, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said during the trial.

Judge Richard Leon scheduled a hearing for 4:00 pm (1900 GMT) to announce his decision, which may come around the same time as a written opinion following a seven-week bench trial. The new $65 billion offer from Comcast also includes a $2.5 billion reverse breakup fee if the deal is struck down by the government.

The Department of Justice had sued to block the merger, claiming the combination would reduce competition and innovation in the market for pay television.

A high-stakes decision in a USA court Tuesday will be significant for the future of Big Media, Big Tech and big business in general.

But the decision is also expected to have significant ripple effects, as it likely will make the government less likely to challenge some other pending deals. Specifically, on future deals of this type. The government alleged that by owning Time Warner, AT&T would have too much leverage in negotiations with television distributors, which would hurt competitors, harm innovation and could lead to increased cable prices for consumers.

Using unusually strong language, he discouraged the Justice Department from asking him to put the ruling on hold while they consider an appeal.

Some others in the entertainment realm were also affected.

Comcast said it has offered $65bn (£48.6bn) in cash for Fox's film and television studios and global businesses. Comcast is now expected to make an aggressive bid for parts of Fox, which already has a deal to sell some of its entertainment assets to Disney.

In mid-December, The Walt Disney Company announced it would purchase 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and global TV businesses, for $52.4 billion. However, Comcast reportedly refused to sweeten the pot with a fee that would go to Fox should federal regulators reject the deal. Despite Comcast's higher offer, it's not immediately clear whether Fox's board would entertain it.

Which titan do you want to see rise and which do you want to see fall? Comcast said last month that its new offer would be at least as favorable to Fox shareholders as Disney's terms.

Disney and Fox stockholders will vote on the deal at special meetings on July 10.

Between that now-pending battle and the approved merger of AT&T with Time Warner, the media landscape is undergoing a dramatic shift.

In a conference call Monday with shareholders, CEO Brian Roberts told investors, "As we discussed during our recent conference calls and webcast, opportunities arise for us to create more value for our shareholders like we did with NBCUniversal". This news comes to us courtesy of The Associated Press.

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