District Judge Judge Richard Leon has tossed the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against AT&T to block the telecom’s acquisition of Time Warner. The $85 billion deal can now proceed.
The Justice Department filed the suit in November alleging that AT&T would be able to hike rates of its premium channel packages and wrangle higher retransmission fees of Time Warner networks such as Cartoon Network, TBS and CNN from competing pay-TV services.
President Donald Trump, who has advocated for the blocking of the deal, has criticized CNN for its coverage of his election campaign and his administration.
Judge Leon rejected the arguments and has not imposed any conditions on the buyout. He has also discouraged the government agency from pursuing a stay of his decision if it will pursue an appeal.
For its part, the department was not thrilled with the outcome.
“We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. “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.”
AT&T General Counsel David McAtee now expects its purchase of Time Warner to close by June 20.