On June 13th District Judge Richard Leon ruled that a vertical merger of $85 billion between AT&T and Time-Warner could go through. He explained at the time that the government had failed to prove the merger would, “likely to lessen competition substantially.”
On Thursday the DOJ announced they were appealing that decision. The notice of appeal, via Deadline, was filed by the same U.S. Attorney, Chris Conrath, that handled the six week original trial.
The notice of appeal contains none of the reasons behind the appeal, though based on the original government concern that the merger would be a disadvantage to both the consumer and rival companies, it’s likely that the governments objections still remain, even now after the merger is complete.
AT&T’s general counsel, David McAtee issued a statement regarding the appeal, he states in part, they are ready to defend the Court’s decision,” and that, “The Court’s decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned.” He also notes that while the losing party in litigation certainly has the right to appeal, they are “surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances.”
For what its worth Deadline reported on Thursday that while the DOJ is looking to break-up the newly minted vertically merged, AT&T/Time-Warner the DOJ does appeared poised to “bless Sinclair Broadcast Group’s long-gestating deal to acquire Tribune Media.” And that the DOJ has also reached a settlement with Disney to purchase 21st Century Fox assets, providing that Disney agrees to carve out “Fox’s regional sports networks over ESPN-related monopoly concerns.” Comcast is also attempting to buy 21st Century Fox assets, though it’s possible this appeal will prevent the company from making a counteroffer given, “a combination of Fox and the Philadelphia-based Comcast would represent a vertical merger that would bring together media assets with the nation’s largest cable TV distributor and a leading provider of high-speed internet access in the U.S.”