A potential merger between AT&T and Time Warner has been slapped with an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice. Since the deal was confirmed just over a year ago, there has been ongoing concern that it could be bad for consumers and rivals.
Time Warner is one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies. It owns the likes of HBO, Warner Bros., and the Turner Broadcasting System. Taking control of these names would be a huge benefit for AT&T, but there is significant concern it would be a disadvantage to almost everyone else.
In an effort to block the merger, the DoJ has filed an antitrust lawsuit that alleges the move would reduce competition and lead to higher prices. Customers will end up with “higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options,” said assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim.
AT&T’s plan to have the merger wrapped up by the end of 2017 is almost certainly crushed for now, but it won’t give up easily. In a statement issued Monday evening, the carrier insisted the deal would make “television more affordable, innovative, interactive, and mobile.”
AT&T called the lawsuit “a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent.” “Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter,” it added. “We are confident that the Court will reject the Government’s claims and permit this merger.”
AT&T statement on DOJ suing to block its acquisition of Time Warner: pic.twitter.com/b5Mo7nexiv
— Jan Wolfe (@JanNWolfe) November 20, 2017
It has recently been reported that the DoJ was pushing for AT&T to sell some of its assets as a condition for the merger’s approval. However, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has dismissed these claims.
This lawsuit doesn’t kill the merger by any means, but it certainly makes life more difficult for AT&T and Time Warner. Even if approval is granted eventually, it’s going to take a lot longer than originally planned for the merger to be finalized.