AT&T has completed its acquisition of Time Warner, just two days after a federal judge ruled the merger could clear despite the objections of the Justice Department and just hours after the Justice Department said it would allow the deal to close.
The $85 billion deal puts the many massive media properties owned by Time Warner — including HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN — under the ownership of one of America’s largest internet, TV, and phone service providers. It creates a whole mess of potential conflicts of interest when it comes to content favoritism, with opponents of the deal drawing concern around AT&T’s ability to promote its own shows and movies over those of other companies.
AT&T initially signed a deal to buy Time Warner in October 2016, but its closure was delayed after the Justice Department sued to stop the acquisition, saying it would lead to higher prices for consumers. This week, a judge decided in AT&T’s favor, allowing the deal to close without any conditions. The Justice Department may still appeal the ruling, but it declined to seek a legal stay that would have blocked the merger from going into effect.
If you like the sound of this enormous media and distribution conglomerate, stay tuned, because there’s likely a lot more coming your way. Yesterday, in the wake of the ruling in AT&T’s favor, Comcast (which already owns NBCUniversal) made a bid for 21st Century Fox’s TV and film assets.