Appeals Court Upholds AT&T Merger With Time Warner

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 28, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The AT&T/Time Warner merger was a done deal last year. It just took a while for the federal government to accept it.

After an appeals court rejected the government's arguments, the Justice Department lawyers finally threw in the towel. President Trump, an outspoken critic of Time Warner's CNN since his election, had said the merger would hurt consumers.

But none of that matters anymore. We will now return our regularly scheduled programming.

Higher Prices?

Administration lawyers sued to stop the merger, arguing last June that it would create higher prices for consumers by decreasing competition. Judge Richard Leon didn't buy it, and the deal closed a few days later.

The government appealed, but the DC Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision. The appeals panel said the attorneys failed to make their case.

The lawyers had argued the district judge misunderstood economic principles, and "clearly erred" in rejecting a "quantitative analysis" of the marketplace. The DC Circuit said the government's arguments were "unpersuasive."

"Evidence indicated that the industry has become dynamic in recent years with the emergence, for example, of Netflix and Hulu," the appeals court said.

Consumer Benefits?

AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said the merger has "already yielded significant consumer benefits."

"While we respect the important role that the U.S. Department of Justice plays in the merger review process, we trust that today's unanimous decision from the D.C. Circuit will end this litigation," he said after the ruling.

According to reports, the DOJ will not "pursue further litigation in the case."

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