The AT&T and Time Warner merger has officially been approved. The media world has been holding their breath for weeks, awaiting the final decision from Judge Richard Leon as to whether or not he would allow for the two companies to merge in a deal valued at more than $80 billion. He has indeed ruled in favor of the merger, despite government opposition. Here's what the Associated Press had to say about it in a tweet.
"BREAKING: Judge OKs AT&T merger with Time Warner, rejecting government argument it would hurt pay-TV consumers, competition."
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon made his decision in front of a packed house of people who were awaiting the crucially important ruling. The $85.4 billion merger was first put forth in October 2016, but a deal like this was met with intense scrutiny from regulators, as it will have major implications on the media landscape moving forward. Specifically, on future deals of this type. The government had opposed the deal, claiming that it would limit competition and raise costs for consumers. The Justice Department even sued to block it, but Judge Leon saw things a bit differently.
Time Warner controls assets such as HBO, CNN and, most importantly, Warner Bros. Among many other things, that includes such properties as DC Entertainment and the Harry Potter movie rights. AT&T is known to most consumers as a telecom company, offering cable, internet and phone services, but this is just the latest in a line of mergers from such companies trying to break into the media landscape. Comcast, for instance, owns NBCUniversal, and Verizon owns websites including Yahoo and HuffPost. AT&T will now have a major foothold in the media industry. Other assets included in the deal are cable networks such as TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network.
The biggest impact of this deal will be felt quickly, as Comcast will now formally make an offer to Fox for the majority of its assets. 21st Century Fox already agreed in December to sell those assets to Disney, which include all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, a stake in Hulu, their stake in international broadcaster Sky and many regional sports channels, among other assets. Disney's $52 billion offer is in stock, but Comcast will now officially offer Fox $60 billion in cash. Comcast is making the offer even though Fox has not solicited it. However, now that the AT&T deal has been approved by a federal judge, there is precedent for such a deal and Comcast believes it won't be blocked. That means those who were hoping to see Disney take over the X-Men and Fantastic Four may not want to hold their breath.
Comcast's deal is expected to be announced tomorrow. It's unclear at the present time if Fox will stick with the Disney deal or start a potential bidding war. If Fox pulls out of the Disney deal, they will have to pay a multi-billion penalty. Between that now-pending battle and the approved merger of AT&T with Time Warner, the media landscape is undergoing a dramatic shift. Plenty more details are sure to be revealed in the coming days and we'll be sure to keep you up to date as new information is made available. This news comes to us courtesy of The Associated Press.