This morning U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that AT&T’s $85.4 billion bid was legal, and imposed no conditions on the merger. This is a major blow to the Department of Justice who had appealed hoping to overturn an earlier ruling in an effort to at least impose some conditions on the merger.
The Department of Justice had been calling on AT&T and Time Warner to sell all or part of the Turner Broadcasting Group—the group of cable networks that includes CNN—or to sell off DIRECTV and keep the cable networks as a potential requirement for approving the pending deal.
The case has drawn attention from all sides including Sling TV’s President Warren Schlichting, who testified against the merger. “We would lose a lot of subs,” Schlichting said, during an hour and a half of testimonies at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. “There would be severe bleeding. It would be a lose/lose for us, and a win/win for them.”
Even the FCC came out against the earlier court ruling. “While the Commission takes no position on the relevance of any document in this case, it is concerned that two of the rationales supplied by the district court for discounting the probative value of submissions made to the FCC could reflect a misunderstanding of Commission procedures,” the FCC wrote.
Now AT&T is free to move forward with their plans for Time Warner free from worry of a potential court order forcing them to sell off part or all of Time Warner or DIRECTV.
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