AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner has cleared one of its last hurdles, with a panel of judges rejecting an appeal by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Justice Department had sued to block the $85 billion merger in late 2017, arguing that it would give AT&T too much power over rival TV distributors. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled in AT&T’s favor last June, and the two companies finalized the deal immediately after. During oral arguments in December, a panel of three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit seemed skeptical that Leon erred in his decision.
As CNN notes, the government can try to either bring the case to the full appeals court or take it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
So far, the acquisition hasn’t been much of a boon to AT&T, which is hemorrhaging subscribers from both its DirecTV satellite service and its DirecTV Now streaming service. It hasn’t been great for consumers, either, as AT&T has hiked DirecTV Now prices and withheld HBO from rival Dish Network amid a carriage dispute. (HBO says being owned by AT&T has nothing to do with it.) AT&T is hoping to tap into content from Time Warner (now called WarnerMedia) for a Netflix-like streaming service later this year, but pricing and timing are still unclear.