AT&T scored a massive legal victory and a massive acquisition on Tuesday when the company was given permission to purchase Time Warner.
The U.S. Justice Department did its best to block the merger, fearing that it would violate anti-trust laws and place too many aspects of the entertainment pipeline in one company's hands. However, according to a report by CNET, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon disagreed. On Tuesday, he turned down the Justice Department's requests to block the deal.
The merger is now all but assured, and promises to change the landscape of the entertainment industry as we know it. Time Warner owns numerous companies in its own right, all of which will now fall under the umbrella of AT&T. This means that the cable provider will now hold the fate of DC Entertainment, HBO and the Turner Broadcasting System in its metaphorical hands.
"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," said AT&T's general counsel, David McAtee in a statement on Tuesday.
Experts say that massive media conglomerates like AT&T are currently staring dubiously at online corporations like Google and Facebook, which are their biggest competition in the marketplace. Some speculate that if AT&T successfully acquires Time Warner, it may trigger yet another massive deal, this time between Comcast and Fox.
Earlier this year, Fox struck a deal with Walt Disney, selling off its entertainment assets to the company. It may go even further, with the rest of Fox joining NBCUniversal under the Comcast umbrella.
Tuesday's court decision is a massive win for AT&T, which is currently considered the third-largest media conglomerate behind Disney and Comcast. It gives the company even more power leverage in the media arena. Just three years ago, the company paid about $49 billion to purchase the satellite company DirecTV.0comments
Still, many people — including those working in the Justice Department — believe that the ruling is a blow to the American consumer. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim released a statement saying that the merger will leave consumers with fewer options, leaving them vulnerable for exploitation.
"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," Delrahim said. He is currently the head of the department's antitrust division. "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."