A federal judge determined this afternoon that AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner is legal, which means the telecommunications giant will become the new owner of the parent company of Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Entertainment and CNN.
According to CNBC, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon didn't impose any conditions in the closely watched case. The U.S. Justice Department opposes the purchase, but was urged by Leon not to seek a stay of his decision.
The federal government objected to the deal on the grounds that the pay-TV market will be made less competitive by a combined AT&T and Time Warner, but the announcement of the purchase in 2016 also drew criticism from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, who's no fan of CNN. He pledged at the time that, if elected, his administration would block the deal, “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” The Justice Department sued last year to stop the merger.
The court's decision was also anxiously awaited by Comcast, which was reportedly waiting for an all-clear signal before it steps up with an all-cash offer for 21st Century Fox's key assets, potentially derailing a deal with Disney.
The acquisition of Time Warner gives AT&T control of not only DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ film, television and interactive divisions, but also Hanna-Barbera Productions and cable networks like HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network. In addition, Time Warner jointly owns The CW with CBS.