The ruling blesses the $85 billion merger, one of the biggest media deals ever. For more, RT America's Manila Chan is joined by former Florida Democratic Party Chair Mitch Ceasar and GOP Strategist Ken Del Vecchio. Before the trial started, Leon declined AT&T's motion to pursue a line of defense that would have allowed it to conduct discover on communications between the White House and the DOJ.
Comcast is expected to offer $60 billion for the Fox regional sports networks, the FX cable channel, the Sky satellite-TV business in Europe, Fox movie and television studios, and Fox worldwide channels as early as Wednesday. For example, Comcast is reportedly eager to gobble up some of 21st Century Fox's assets. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who heads up the antitrust division, said in a statement that he was disappointed in the court's decision and he reiterated the government's belief that the merger will harm consumers.
Schwantes says more media mega-deals could be coming soon.
To see how this could happen, consider that, after the merger, AT&T would have the rights to all of HBO's output, CNN, live National Basketball Association and NCAA broadcasts, and many more desirable Time Warner properties. "I think we'll see now that companies will be much more confident about vertical mergers", he added, referring to acquisitions which tie together different parts of a business, such as production and distribution. The ruling comes one day after the repeal of net neutrality, meaning that AT&T now has more freedom to prioritize the delivery of select content on its network.
Executives at both companies broach the idea that the merger was singled out for antitrust enforcement because of President Donald Trump's animosity toward Time Warner unit CNN.
The Justice Department's main argument against the merger was that by owning Time Warner's content, which includes must-have channels like CNN, AT&T could raise prices for pay-TV rivals and keep costs prohibitive for online streaming services.
Comcast's deal is expected to be announced tomorrow.
President Obama's Justice Department brought the case against AmEx, while President Trump's sued AT&T.
In any case, the judge's decision - which could block, allow or approve the merger with restrictions - is unlikely to be the final word.
The ruling clears the way for the telecom giant to restart its merger engine, and could prompt a jumbo bond issue sized up to US$18bn, two investors said. On the stand, Stephenson responded that the point was to shoot down any notion that AT&T could win by limiting the spread of Time Warner's content, as the government was suggesting.
Leon was also unimpressed with the government's theory that AT&T would use its ownership of Time Warner to withhold content from streaming multichannel video programming distributor services like DISH's Sling TV, Hulu Live and Google's YouTube TV.