Judge approves $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner deal

AT&T, Time Warner Merger Approved by Judge

The ruling blesses the $85 billion merger, one of the biggest media deals ever.

Comcast said Tuesday that it is preparing to announce a bid for Fox's assets on Wednesday if the AT&T/Time Warner deal is approved.

Consumer advocacy groups denounced the ruling, arguing that it could enable AT&T to thwart competition from online video distributors - especially now that the Obama-era net neutrality rules have been repealed. It's already purchased satellite TV provider DirecTV for almost $49 billion.

Opponents of the AT&T decision also predicted more deals. The approval of AT&T and Time Warner's merger works in Comcast's favor, spurring it to finalize its all-cash offer, which is said to be in the "advanced stages".

Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington, said the Justice Department had not proved that the telecom company's acquisition of Time Warner would lead to fewer choices for consumers and higher prices for television and internet services. The Justice Department even sued to block it, but Judge Leon saw things a bit differently.

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"We are disappointed with the Court's decision today", Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said in a statement. Time Warner sells its content to the entire pay TV market, however, and makes its money by charging subscription fees and running ads. Comcast announced in May that it was preparing an offer to buy 21st Century Fox after an earlier bid was rejected, and news reports suggest that an offer could come as soon as Wednesday. The companies had argued that the move is essential to compete in the current media landscape.

Aside from proving Stephenson is a fan of the Oxford comma, the government argued that this quote showed AT&T did intend to use Time Warner's content as a weapon.

The DOJ filed suit against AT&T in November of a year ago, claiming that if the deal were allowed to go through, Time Warner's Turner television networks could be withheld from competing TV carriers or licensed at such a high cost as to give AT&T (who also owns DirecTV) an unfair advantage over its competitors. The DOJ filed suit in November, claiming that the Time Warner deal would eventually result in higher TV prices for millions of consumers. In fact, CNNMoney reported that AT&T-Time Warner's counsel Daniel Petrocelli made the argument that traditional media orgs have already been left behind in the digital revolution. AT&T will now have a major foothold in the media industry. AT&T has been the nation's largest pay-TV company since it acquired DirecTV in 2015, and is one of the largest providers of home and mobile broadband service. Disney has said that they are prepared to fight to keep a deal in place.

"The conventional wisdom is that the government had a steep hill to climb bringing the first vertical-merger case", in over 40 years, Eric Mahr, a former director of litigation at the Department of Justice, told Business Insider. Sessions did not comply with the request. AT&T lawyers initially sought email correspondence between Trump's White House and the Justice Department, but Leon declared that any communications were not relevant to the trial, and AT&T relented.

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