DOJ sues to stop AT&T's bid to buy Time Warner (including CNN)

Posted Monday, November 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The Department of Justice Monday filed a lawsuit to block AT&T's efforts to merge with Time Warner, which owns DirecTV, HBO and Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting. This is considered one of the biggest U.S. anti-trust battles in decades.

"This merger would greatly harm American consumers," said Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for antitrust, said in a statement. "It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy."

AT&T plans to fight for the merger in court.

Explore RELATED: Read the DOJ suit here

"Today's DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent," AT&T's general counsel, David McAtee, said in a statement. "We are confident that the court will reject the government's claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent."

Some news reports have said DOJ would only allow the merger if AT&T disposed of either DirecTV or Turner Broadcasting, including CNN. AT&T - which is one of the largest Internet and cable operators - is not predisposed to making the latter move since the point of the acquisition is content created by the likes of CNN, TBS and TNT. The Justice Department and the White House have denied that this is an effort to punish CNN for coverage Donald Trump has hated.

This is considered a "vertical" merger because the two companies are not directly competing with each other. A similar Comcast/NBC Universal merger in 2011 went through with some conditions attached.