AT&T may have already finalized its acquisition of one of the biggest media companies in the world, but that doesn’t mean further attempts can’t be made to separate the companies.
According to new court records released this week, the U.S. Justice Department plans to file an appeal with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in order to unwind the newly-established company formed by AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner. If you recall, President Donald Trump has been trying to block the acquisition ever since he entered office after promising to block the deal on the campaign trail. Therefore, the Justice Department’s decision to file a former appeal comes as no surprise.
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim made this statement after a judge formally ruled AT&T could acquire Time Warner.
We are disappointed with the Court’s decision today. We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner. We will closely review the Court’s opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers.
It’s been pretty clear Trump’s administration would eventually take some sort of action on this deal in order to create a more competitive space. Back in 2016, he said he’d block the deal because “it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” But now that the deal has been finalized and closed, it’s unclear how the President and his team will work to unravel the merger.
If Trump succeeds in separating Time Warner from AT&T, it would look pretty awkward on AT&T’s part. The carrier has already begun offering new cellular plans that integrate different assets previously owned by Time Warner such as HBO. If the deal gets blocked, there’s a good chance these plans will be canceled out.
Of course, if further developments take place between now and the time the Justice Department files its appeal, we’ll let you know.