DOJ Appeals Court Ruling That Paved Way For AT&T-Time Warner Merger

The AT&T and Time Warner logos are seen on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City

The AT&T and Time Warner logos are seen on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City

The US justice department announced on Thursday that it will appeal against a federal judge's decision to allow AT&T's landmark takeover of Time Warner.

The case is one of the first major antitrust cases of the digital era brought to prevent what is known as a "vertical integration" - when a merger combines companies up and down the supply chain; in this case, merging a content creator (Time Warner) and the telecom, cable, and satellite provider that will carry that content (AT&T, which already owns DirectTV).

However, now the DOJ appears to have changed its mind, and served notice today in federal court in Washington, D.C. The action took AT&T by surprise.

"While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances", said AT&T general counsel David McAtee.

The US government has made a decision to appeal against a landmark court ruling that cleared the way for telecoms giant AT&T to buy Time Warner. The judge also warned the Department of Justice against seeking a stay, strongly hinting that he did not think an appeal would be worthwhile. The Justice Department still had 60 days, however, to appeal the decision approving the merger.

The June 12 ruling was a blow for the Justice Department's antitrust division.

This fuelled speculation that Trump could be retaliating due to critical coverage of his administration from news broadcaster CNN, which was part of Time Warner. AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner on June 14 and formed WarnerMedia a day later.

However, that apparently was not enough to satisfy the DoJ, which declined to comment. President Donald Trump, on the campaign trail, repeatedly expressed reservations about the deal, which includes ownership of CNN, the news network that frequently draws Trump's ire. The day after Leon delivered his ruling, Comcast made a $65 billion offer for 21st Century Fox, in an attempt to outbid Disney for Fox's entertainment assets.

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