AT&T-Time Warner Decision: Either Way, Media Is Ailing

AT&T-Time Warner Decision: Either Way, Media Is Ailing

Daenerys Targaryen, Superman and Harry Potter are all headed to AT&T after all.

Although AT&T does not have to go through with the merger and Time Warner does not have to accept, with federal approval the $85.4 billion deal is now virtually complete. AT&T and Time Warner will offer better-targeted ads to their customers, and as a result of all this, it's expected that prices will be lowered at some point. Comcast has already made an offer for Sky, the United Kingdom satellite TV business. That leverage would allow AT&T to raise prices for Time Warner content, with those costs being passed on to consumers, according to the Justice Department.

For this reason, the government was hoping that Leon would at least put conditions on the merger, like requiring the telecom to sell off some of Time Warner's most coveted properties. The Trump Justice Department sued to block the $85 billion merger, arguing that it would hurt competition in pay TV and cost consumers more to stream TV and movies.

Judge Napolitano said the decision may be good for shareholders and consumers.

Makan Delrahim, the antitrust chief of the DOJ, said in a statement that he and his staff are "disappointed" but will "closely review the Court's opinion and consider next steps", leaving the door open for an appeal of the ruling. Other deals on the line include the proposed T-Mobile and Sprint merger, CVS' purchase of Aetna and Cigna's acquisition of Express Scripts. Comcast and Walt Disney dropped 4.3 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. After all, Netflix and Amazon are already vertically integrated.

AT&T, which has invested heavily in a streaming video service called DirecTV Now, is free to bulk up its original programming with Time Warner content.

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Though the deal would combine healthcare businesses that don't compete directly with each other, the U.S. government could still move to block it on the grounds that it would affect competition in the healthcare system.

Trump, however, repeatedly had blasted the merger, due in no small part to his opposition to CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.

The Time Warner deal is a crucial achievement for Stephenson, who views AT&T as competing with Google, Facebook, Netflix and other Silicon Valley giants.

Amid the shifting media sands is a backdrop of intense competition in the wireless business.

The AT&T and Time Warner merger has officially been approved. Instead, he said the companies were frustrated that the resolution took 18 months, but were relieved that the fight was finally over. During Donald Trump's campaign for President in 2016, he said he would block the deal as President "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

As a candidate for president, Trump vowed to block the merger, stating it would concentrate too much power in one company. "We strongly urge the Justice Department to appeal this decision all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary". AT&T wasn't on board, saying, "Divestitures here would destroy the very consumer value this merger is created to unlock". AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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