The ruling is a blow for the Trump administration’s antitrust enforcers, but they could still try to block other deals.
The news: A US court ruled that AT&T’s deal for media giant Time Warner could go ahead over the objections of the US Department of Justice, which worried that the combination would raise prices for consumers. AT&T will now control a media group whose assets include HBO and CNN, though the DoJ could seek an emergency appeal of the ruling.
Deal bonanza: Other telecom companies like Comcast, which has been stalking 21st Century Fox’s TV operations, and Verizon, which combined Yahoo and AOL into media division Oath, could now bid for more content businesses in order to compete with huge digital platforms like Amazon and Netflix. This could lead to a dramatic reshaping of the media landscape.
Why this matters: Although the ruling is a huge setback for the DoJ, its nearly two-year legal battle to try and block the Time Warner deal is a sign it’s determined to challenge massive mergers. Big internet companies could be next in the agency’s sights: its antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, has made it clear that trustbusters must take vigorous action if digital platforms threaten competition.
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