AT&T Judge Quotes Bob Dylan, Slams Government in 172-Page Ruling

AT&T Judge Quotes Bob Dylan, Slams Government in 172-Page Ruling

AT&T Judge Quotes Bob Dylan, Slams Government in 172-Page Ruling

Peter Dinklage and Conleth Hill in a scene from Game of Thrones.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon made his decision in front of a packed house of people who were awaiting the crucially important ruling.

The judge said that the Department of Justice did not sufficiently meet its burden of proving that the deal would allow AT&T to harm rival TV providers.

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 DOJ has argued that this type of consolidation would give the merged AT&T-Time Warner the ability to raise prices, thwarting the competition's ability to compete by forcing them to raise prices to maintain carriage rights. A loss for AT&T and Time Warner could have signaled a new era of government scrutiny over so-called "vertical mergers" and could have halted attempts by companies like Disney, Fox and Comcast to announce their own megadeals. 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". Delrahim, Trump's appointment as the antitrust chief at the Justice Department, is widely well-regarded.

Analysts say the judge's go-ahead will likely rewrite the rules on how courts apply antitrust laws, paving the way for a number of other potential sales involving names like Comcast, Disney, 21st Century Fox and several other content creation and distribution companies. The transition to streaming services, away from traditional cable, is one that's costing pay TV companies millions of subscribers and billions in revenue every year.

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. "We will closely review the Court's opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers", Delrahm added in a statement.

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Ahead of the ruling, AT&T was up about 1% in early trading while Time Warner was higher by about 0.9%.

A US court ruled that AT&T's deal for media giant Time Warner could go ahead over the objections of the US Department of Justice, which anxious that the combination would raise prices for consumers.

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. "Small wonder it had to go to trial!"

The government can appeal the ruling, but Leon reportedly said that he would reject any government motion for a stay that would further delay the deal.

After the decision, Mr Petrocelli said: "We were surprised when the case was brought and as I said in closing arguments, it's a case that never should have been brought".

It's also worth noting that President Trump has been publicly opposed to the deal since he was on the campaign trail.

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