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Surprise! Department of Justice is Appealing Against the AT&T – Time Warner Merger

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Just when you thought it was a done deal and the Department of Justice was going to let it go, the New York Times is reporting the DOJ has filed an appeal against the ruling approving the merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

AT&T’s general counsel, David McAtee, expressed confidence about the company’s chances in an appeal. “The court’s decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned,” he said in a statement. “While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the D.O.J. has chosen to do so under these circumstances.”

The Justice Department declined to comment beyond pointing to its filing to appeal.

As the Times notes, this could be a big ‘ole mess to unwind and detach at this late date.  AT&T executives are already in place at the renamed Warner Media.

NPR also notes some other changes that have been made:

Earlier this month, AT&T raised the cost by $5 per month for its digital streaming offerings for its satellite service DirecTV, called DirecTV Now. The chief of its newly renamed Warner Media division, John Stankey, recently promised HBO executives great creative latitude and much more money to develop new shows. But, in widely reported remarks, he also said he expected far greater volume of programming. CNN (part of Warner Media) reported that Warner Media has been operated largely as a stand-alone unit in anticipation of a possible government challenge.

Some people would say that price hike is precisely one of the reasons they opposed the merger and there are definitely two sides to the argument of HBO getting a bigger budget.

However, just because there’s an appeal doesn’t necessarily mean anything is going to change in a merger than cannot escape its political overtones.

Interestingly, there seems to be no DOJ concern about Disney acquiring Fox.

File this one under “developing.”

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