A U.S. District Court Judge has given the okay to the planned merger between AT&T and Time Warner.
A federal judge said Tuesday that AT&T’s $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner is legal, clearing the path for a deal that gives the pay-TV provider ownership of cable channels such as HBO and CNN as well as film studio Warner Bros.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon did not impose conditions on the merger’s approval. He also urged the government not to seek a stay when issuing his decision in a closed-door room with reporters.
The deal had been on hold since November, when the United States Justice Department filed to stop the merger, due to fears the merger would result in higher bills and fewer options for consumers.
AT&T released a statement saying it is pleased with the ruling and plans to close the deal on or before June 20:
“We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government’s lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner. We thank the Court for its thorough and timely examination of the evidence, and we compliment our colleagues at the Department of Justice on their dedicated representation of the government. We look forward to closing the merger on or before June 20 so we can begin to give consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile, and innovative.”
The Justice Department, however, was not as pleased:
“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. 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.”
The decision could prove to be just the first of a wave of similar deals, as Comcast has been holding off on a possible bid for Twenty-First Century Fox, and could announce an offer as soon as Wednesday, now that the AT&T/Time Warner merger has gotten the go ahead.