It was in October of 2016 that a report surfaced that AT&T was attempting to acquire Time Warner. The deal would give AT&T significant holdings in the media industry. The following February Time Warner shareholders approved the merger. This was quickly followed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai refusing to review the deal. That left it in the hands of the Justice Department. Every other country involved has since approved the merger. It was only the U.S. that kept it from being final.
President Trump’s Justice Department filed an anti-trust lawsuit last year in November. That pushed the merger deadline till the 21st of this month. Today a judge stepped into the fray and approved the merger.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has approved the merger. This gives the go-ahead for the $85.4 billion deal to see these companies do the same thing that Comcast and NBC Universal did in 2009.
Antitrust was an important part of Trump’s agenda during his campaign. The lawsuit by the Justice Department was unprecedented and seemed to show the executive branch was serious about it. The strange part was that although they were in related industries, AT&T and Time Warner were not direct competitors so the Justice Department case was never strong.
Now with AT&T having a clear path to the planned merger they will gain control over Time Warner assets that include Turner Broadcasting System, The CW, HBO, CNN, and DC Comics. They will also have 10% interest in HULU.
This could change the whole marketplace for TV viewing. Since AT&T already have DirectTV in their pocket, this will likely make future negotiations for licensing (that thing that turns off several of your channels each year as the companies have a pissing contest) into a much more contentious thing.
Now that this is over (pending any appeals by the Justice Department), the looming shareholder meeting at FOX to decide whether to approve Disney acquiring their properties for a mix of stock and cash is preferable to the expected cash only offer of Comcast looms large (we reported on that here).
The crucial vote on that merger is scheduled for July 10th.
Do you think this will improve the marketplace or will it divide things even further? Do you hope FOX chooses Disney so all the Marvel properties are under one roof? Let us know in the comments below….