DOJ sues to challenge AT&T-Time Warner merger


"Were this merger allowed to proceed, the newly combined firm likely would - just as AT&T/DirecTV has already predicted - use its control of Time Warner's popular programming as a weapon to harm competition", states the DOJ complaint filed in the case.

This follows a period filled with reports that the DOJ demanded AT&T and Time Warner sell Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN.

AT&T said Monday that U.S. antitrust enforcers filed suit to block its merger with Time Warner, setting up a major court battle over the US$85 billion tie-up.

Negotiations for the current deal that has AT&T valuing Time Warner at $85.4 billion originally began this past summer.

AT&T, which sees the deal as a way to compete against emerging technology companies such as Netflix Inc and Inc's Prime Video, described the lawsuit as "a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent". "Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn't have the final say in this matter".

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The Trump administration has had a strained relationship with the news network.

Aside from Trump and the Justice Department, the deal is also opposed by an array of consumer groups and smaller television networks. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at the time that his company would not sell any assets and would fight the DOJ in court.

Reuters reported earlier this month that the Justice Department believed the merger would raise costs for rival entertainment distributors and stifle innovation and could allow AT&T to withhold key content from HBO, CNN or other of its channels from competitors.

DOJ officials on Monday said that they couldn't agree with the companies on an "adequate remedy" that would make the merger less anti-competitive.

"This merger would significantly hurt American purchasers", Mr. Delrahim, the associate lawyer general for antitrust, said in an announcement.