A six-week trial in the Justice Department’s challenge to the AT&T-Time Warner merger ended today with a decision to approve the $85.4 billion merger.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington announced the ruling ahead of the release of the full written decision. The ruling is a setback for the Trump administration, which took a strong position against the merger.
The New York Times reports that the decision is “expected to unleash a wave of takeovers in corporate America.”
Leon “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 Times reports. “The merger would create a media and telecommunications powerhouse, reshaping the landscape of those industries. The combined company would have a library that includes HBO’s hit ‘Game of Thrones’ and channels like CNN, along with vast distribution reach through wireless and satellite television services across the country.”
The Times report adds: “Media executives increasingly say that content creation and distribution must be married to survive against rising technology companies like Amazon and Netflix. Those two companies started making their own programming in just the last several years. But those tech companies now spend billions of dollars a year on original programming, and users can stream their video on apps in homes and on mobile devices, pulling attention from traditional media businesses.”