AT&T Wants Time Warner Merger Antitrust Trial to Start in February

Telecom giant said “further delay is unwarranted and unfair” in a Tuesday filing

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AT&T responded at length to the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit that seeks to block its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, calling for a 10-day trial set to begin on February 20, 2018.

The DOJ had targeted a May 7 trial date, which would prolong by months a transaction that was agreed upon last October — and would come after April 22, which the companies agreed to set as a new termination date for the deal this week. The transaction was originally scheduled to terminate in October, but was extended temporarily to work through regulatory issues.

But with the DOJ’s decision to try to stop the deal in the courts, that timeline has changed — and AT&T and Time Warner are looking for a resolution sooner than later.

“Defendants’ proposed schedule will not prejudice the Government, which has had ample time already to investigate its case,” AT&T’s lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said in the filing. “Further delay is unwarranted and unfair to the Defendants, their shareholders, and their customers. As the attached chronology demonstrates, the Government has already obtained substantial discovery from the parties and, indeed, has had much of it since earlier this year.”

In the filing, AT&T said the two companies have already handed over 25 million pages of documents to government officials and 200 pages of written responses to questions from the Justice Department. In the spring, 17 executives from AT&T and Time Warner at for depositions that took 19 days.

The union of AT&T and Time Warner would create a media behemoth with assets including the Warner Bros. studio, CNN, HBO, the Turner networks, AT&T’s wireless business and DirecTV. However, President Donald Trump has repeatedly bashed the merger on the campaign trail and in office, and has started a vendetta against CNN, which he has branded “fake news.”