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Wireless TV Provider AT&T’s Merger With Time Warner Upholds — Court

A US appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that wireless and satellite TV provider AT&T’s deal to buy content maker Time Warner for $85.4 billion was legal under antitrust law.

The three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously in favor of the deal.

“The government’s objections that the district court misunderstood and misapplied economic principles and clearly erred in rejecting the quantitative model are unpersuasive,” the judges said in their opinion.

The Justice Department had asked the court to declare the deal illegal, arguing that AT&T, which owns DirecTV, would use ownership of Time Warner’s content, such as CNN and HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” to make pay-TV rivals pay more, thus raising prices for consumers.

The Justice Department and AT&T did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 AT&T shares were last up 0.4 percent in morning trade.

The deal had a higher profile than most media mergers because it was opposed by President Donald Trump, a frequent detractor of Time Warner’s CNN and its news coverage. It also marked a rare instance of the US government seeking to stop a merger of a distributor and a supplier.

The merger, which was announced in October 2016, closed on June 14 shortly after Judge Richard Leon ruled the deal was legal under antitrust law.

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AT&T, the No. 2 US wireless carrier by subscribers, agreed in June to manage Time Warner’s Turner networks separately from DirecTV, including setting prices and managing personnel, until February 2019 or the conclusion of the government’s appeal.

The deal was seen as a turning point for a media industry that has been upended by companies like Netflix and Alphabet’s Google that produce content and sell it online directly to consumers, without requiring a cable subscription.

Source: Nypost

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