AT&T countered that the government's economic model was riddled with flaws and that the deal will enable AT&T and Time Warner to more effectively compete against companies such as Netflix Inc. The DOJ's case to stop the merger is one of the largest anti-trust actions of this generation and a centerpiece in the strategy of Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, the head of the Antitrust Division. Leon "tried his best to make it appeal-proof", said Fiona Schaeffer, an antitrust attorney at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.
"I can't think of a time in recent memory when an appellate court said [the district court] got it wrong" on a merger case, said Geoffrey Manne, executive director of the International Center for Law & Economics, a Portland-based think tank. The Justice Department did not seek a stay, and the deal closed.
What is at stake is whether AT&T can control Time Warner's lucrative assets CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros movie studio, in-demand sports programming, Game of Thrones and other popular television shows. The Justice Department still had 60 days, however, to appeal the decision approving the merger.
The government's notice of appeal filed in U.S. District Court in Washington did not disclose on what grounds it intends to challenge the approval.
As you might expect, it didn't take long for AT&T to respond.
However, that apparently was not enough to satisfy the DoJ, which declined to comment.
In his ruling, the judge said the government had failed to show competitive harm.
In his almost 200-page opinion approving the merger, Judge Leon said that if the government asked him to stay the court order while the Justice Department appealed the case - in other words, to keep the merger on hold during the appeals process - he would refuse to do so.
AT&T also said that in the short term, it would have no role in setting Turner prices and the number of Turner employees and target compensation and benefits would remain "largely unchanged".
But last week, critics seized on reports that AT&T was already planning to raise prices on DirecTV Now streaming service. He said that if elected president, he would block the transaction from taking place.
Deals approved by a federal judge have been undone on appeal in the past. "We are ready to defend the Court's decision at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals".