In a stunning court decision, the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the AT&T - Time Warner merger can move forward. And to help put some of the controversy to rest and actually allow the merger to happen, Judge Richard Leon strongly cautioned the government against seeking a stay.
The $85 billion deal came under heavy fire, not just from the traditional media that usually questions every big corporate merger, but also by President Trump, which, naturally, resulted in additional controversy due to CNN being owned by Time Warner and one of President Trump's so called "fake news" outlets. Nevertheless, the challenge to the deal found support from across the partisan aisle, as AT&T owns DirecTV, and many believed that the merger would represent too much power for one company.
Kind of Like Killing
As the D.C. court noted, the merger deal does not violate antitrust law and has a June 21 deadline, therefore, in the court's opinion, a stay of the order allowing the deal to move forward would effectively kill the deal, which the court explained would be "manifestly unjust."
However, many commentators explain that the greenlight for the merger given here may pave the way for other media, telecom, and corporate conglomerates, to seek out similar opportunities. AT&T and Time Warner argued that their merger, which represents a significant coming together for media and data, is necessary to stay competitive against the new players in the popular media industry, like Netflix, Amazon, Google, YouTube, and even Facebook.
A Newer New Media Era?
With popular media now being produced and distributed by so many major and minor players, channels and outlets, all with massive capabilities to reach millions of viewers, it seems that some of the antitrust concerns of yesteryear's media may be just that. Despite all the fears and potential for anti-competitive behavior that the merger represents, the deal was cleared with no conditions. Though with the recent death of net neutrality, the current new media era we live in may soon be a distant memory to the next newer new media era.