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DOJ Won’t Seek Stay in $85 Billion AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Decision paves the way for merger to go through as soon as Friday

The Department of Justice won’t look to block the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger, declining to pursue a stay order in a joint court filing with AT&T on Thursday.

The move comes after Judge Richard Leon approved the pending merger on Tuesday, and urged the DOJ to not seek a stay before next Monday’s deadline. The deal had been on hold for more than a year leading up to the ruling. With Thursday’s joint filing, the path is clear for the merger to close as soon as Friday.

“We understand that, based on these representations, the Department of Justice has no objection to closing this merger as soon as possible, including later this week, and will [forgo] a request for a stay pending appeal,” Daniel M. Petrocelli, counsel for AT&T and Time Warner, said in a letter to the DOJ, according to CNBC.

The DOJ is still free to appeal the judge’s ruling, however.  “The Department will not be seeking a stay, but continues to evaluate its options with respect to appeal,” a DOJ official told TheWrap.

AT&T agreed to run Turner Broadcasting, parent company of CNN, as a separate business until Feb. 28, 2019, or the end of the case, as part of its agreement with the DOJ.

The DOJ had sued to stop the merger last fall, arguing AT&T could charge its DirecTV competitors more for Time Warner programming  — increasing prices on consumers in the process.

The merger’s approval has ignited a potentially frothy media buying spree — with Comcast now battling Disney with dueling offers for 21st Century Fox’s film and TV businesses.