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AT&T hit with antitrust lawsuit over Time Warner deal

AT&T hit with antitrust lawsuit over Time Warner deal

A suit to block the merger suggests the combination of the largest USA pay-TV provider and No. 2 wireless carrier with a media company that includes Turner Broadcasting (CNN, TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies and TruTV), HBO, and Warner Bros. film studio was seen by the DOJ as too much connectivity and content under AT&T's umbrella.

AT&T is ready to go to court and is "confident" it will prevail in its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

Reports earlier this month indicated that the Justice Department had demanded that AT&T sell CNN as part of a condition for approval, drawing questions as to whether Trump's personal feelings toward the news network were influencing the Justice Department's handling of the merger. Rather, it bears the burden of proving to the U.S. District Court that the transaction violates the law.

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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. "It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy". He said so-called vertical mergers, between companies that are not direct competitors, are routinely approved.

AT&T responded in a statement, calling the lawsuit "a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent". At the same time, the DOJ argues that the proposed merger is unprecedented in its size and harm. AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson countered those reports the next day, saying he'd never been under pressure from the DOJ to sell CNN.

The DOJ's decision to oppose the media merger adds fuel to speculation that the Trump administration is meddling in Justice Department decisions in an attempt to enact retribution against CNN.