AT&T gets clearance to devour Time Warner for $85 BEEEELION


USA district judge Richard Leon dismissed the antitrust case brought by the justice department last November, the culmination of a 20-month ordeal that has seen the deal attacked by Donald Trump, critics of media consolidation and consumer groups. For more, RT America's Manila Chan is joined by former Florida Democratic Party Chair Mitch Ceasar and GOP Strategist Ken Del Vecchio.

Comcast is expected to offer $60 billion for the Fox regional sports networks, the FX cable channel, the Sky satellite-TV business in Europe, Fox movie and television studios, and Fox global channels as early as Wednesday.

There have been persistent reports that Comcast, which owns the majority of NBC Universal, would make an offer to Murdoch and Fox's board that included more cash and less stock than Disney was offering.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the Justice Department was "disappointed" by the decision, but did not say if it planned to appeal.

It argued a combined AT&T-Time Warner could act like an internet company and use consumer data to offer more targeted advertising, and adapt more easily to compete with Netflix and Amazon. The decision means the telecom giant will now control highly-sought after programming - including Game of Thrones, the Harry Potter movie franchise, and CNN - as well as the infrastructure that delivers that content to tens of millions of living rooms televisions and smartphones.

"We knew we had to have scale", he said, according to Variety. The judge backed AT&T's and Time Warner's view that the deal was justified by "tectonic changes" and a "veritable explosion" of innovation among vertically integrated competitors.

But AT&T failed to provide any evidence suggesting that the DOJ's prosecution of the merger had "discriminatory effect and discriminatory intent", Leon said in a ruling earlier in the trial. Stephenson said Watch would only be possible if the merger went through.

The lawsuit against AT&T had sent a signal that the Trump administration's Department of Justice was taking a more hardline stance on such mega-deals. A clear win for AT&T will embolden Comcast, the US's largest cable company, to top Walt Disney's $52bn bid for 21st Century Fox, the media empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family. But now the government seems to have grown concerned about the massive reach of new telecommunications and tech companies that warehouse personal information on users and sell targeted advertisements, Mehra said.

Trump, a frequent detractor of Time Warner's CNN and its coverage, denounced the deal when it was announced in October 2016.

AT&T's bond deal could come sooner rather than later, as the company will want to get ahead of a growing M&A bond pipeline that includes Comcast, Shoup said.

AT&T refused to divest assets and the Justice Department sued to block the deal in November.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Between that now-pending battle and the approved merger of AT&T with Time Warner, the media landscape is undergoing a dramatic shift.