Federal judge Richard Leon has approved the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner. The deal, which took around two years to close, is a big win for AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson and big defeat of the Department of Justice. The DOJ challenged the merger by claiming that it would ultimately cost consumers, because of the possibility that AT&T/Time Warner would use its increased leverage to extract higher carriage fees for channels such as CNN, TBS, and TNT.
Unfortunately for the DOJ, Leon’s decision concluded that the government had failed to prove that the merger would significantly decrease competition. The judge also strongly suggested that the government not seek a stay pending an appeal, according to a report from Variety. According to the publication, Leon said it would be a “manifestly unjust” outcome of the case if they received a stay that further delayed the merger, costing both companies.
Back in April, while on the stand defending his company’s $85 billion plan to merge with Time Warner, Stephenson pointed to an upcoming $15/mo service, which he dubbed AT&T Watch, to counter the DOJ claim about the company’s continually climbing prices for its DirecTV satellite service.