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Justice Department Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger Decision

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A month after a federal judge approved AT&T's planned purchase of Time-Warner, the U.S. Justice Department has filed a notice of appeal, reigniting the antitrust battle over the $85.4 billion merger.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon hadn't imposed any conditions on the deal, meaning AT&T wouldn't be required to divest of any of Time-Warner's properties, and at the time urged the Justice Department not to seek a stay. Bloomberg notes that the government agreed at the time not to seek an emergency order to block the merger after AT&T agreed to operate Time-Warner's Turner Broadcasting division, home to CNN, as a separate unit until 2019.

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However, now the DOJ appears to have changed its mind, and served notice today in federal court in Washington, D.C. The action took AT&T by surprise.

“The Court’s decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned. While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances," AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said in a statement. "We are ready to defend the Court’s decision at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals."

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AT&T moved swiftly after the June 12 decision. closing the deal for Time-Warner just two days later and announcing that, as a result of the merger, the telecommunications giant would restructure as four businesses. The newly renamed Warner Media will be home to such assets as Warner Bros. Entertainment (including the film and television sutdios), DC Entertainment and HBO, under the supervision of AT&T veteran John Stankey.

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