Federal judge approves AT&T-Time Warner merger

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The Justice Department is not likely to be put off by the loss, said Amy Ray of the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, noting it had prevailed in stopping other mergers between rivals. That deal now faces a higher likelihood of regulatory approval. TV Studios and Warner Bros.

The judge's ruling is being seen by tech and telecom giants as a green light to pursue a slew of major media acquisitions. Prior to the announcement of a deal between Disney and Fox, it was reported that one of the key reasons Fox rejected Comcast's initial bid was because the company feared the deal would fall through due to antitrust concerns. A Comcast spokeswoman declined to comment. Its potential deal Fox would be similar to AT&T/Time Warner by combining a cable and internet businesses with TV channels, news, sports and other entertainment.

The tie-up would Wednesday largest United States pay-TV operator and the second-largest wireless phone carrier with Time Warner, owner of premium channel HBO, the Warner Bros studios, Cartoon Network and CNN.

The AT&T logo on a retail store.

Now that a judge has approved the AT&T and Time Warner merger, Comcast is expected to finally place an all-cash offer to try and acquire 21st Century Fox. 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 could side with the Justice Department and grant the request for an injunction blocking the merger.

In the past, the federal antitrust attorneys didn't seem to be bothered if auto manufacturers owned the companies that stamped out fenders or auto bodies.

A spokesman for said that the definitive ruling in favor of its merger with AT&T was a confirmation that the case was politically motivated.

"Consumers may not notice the difference if this one deal goes through because they are already getting crushed in the marketplace", added Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School and author of Captive Audience on the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger.

The ruling is a stinging defeat for the Justice Department.

The government estimated costs to industry rivals, such as Charter Communications, would increase by $580 million a year if AT&T owned Time Warner.

AT&T said that controlling Time Warner's cable brands will help it craft new types of content to retain its customers as web-based rivals like Netflix Inc woo audiences away from traditional pay-TV subscriptions. First floated in October 2016, the deal also brought fire from then-candidate Donald Trump, who promised to kill it "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

Once president, Trump regularly called CNN "fake news" and posted on Twitter in July 2017 a doctored video of him beating up a supposed CNN journalist.

Leaving the courtroom, Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice department's antitrust division, said that he would read the judge's opinion before making a decision on an appeal.

The Justice Department had pressured Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, which includes the cable news operation CNN, or other segments of the business - suggestions the companies resisted.

"Justice denied and consumers skewered", Copps said.

Shares of AT&T were about flat in after-hours trade following the decision, while Time Warner rose more than five per cent. The group Protect Democracy has been seeking access to the records through the Freedom of Information Act, but 83 pages have been withheld from public disclosure on the grounds that they "reflect the deliberative process of the Antitrust staff", according to a letter that the DOJ sent to the group.

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