AT&T says DOJ lawsuit an 'inexplicable departure from precedent'

Gladys Abbott
November 21, 2017

Those comments came after media reports that the Justice Department might requirethe sale of some assets such as Turner, CNN itself or or satellite TV service DirecTV.

The Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, legally challenging a $85 billion deal that would give the telecom giant control of a media empire including CNN, Warner Brothers, HBO, and other major media brands.

The government also argued that AT&T would use Time Warner content to slow the industry's transition to online video and other innovative distribution models.

Last week, the Justice Department had approached 18 state attorneys general asking them to join the challenge of the deal, but as of Monday none had publicly agreed to do so, Reuters reported.

In statements to the Justice Department, AT&T said specifically that distributors who control popular programming "have the incentive and ability to use that control as a weapon to hinder competition", the official quoted AT&T as saying verbatim.

Earlier this month, reports circulated that the government had demanded AT&T sell Turner Broadcasting, operator of the CNN news network, or DirectTV as a condition of approval, though the government pushed back at those reports.

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DOJ officials on Monday said that they couldn't agree with the companies on an "adequate remedy" that would make the merger less anti-competitive. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

AT&T and Time Warner announced their $85 billion merger a year ago but the closing has been dragged out by the government's anti-trust review.

However, the chairman and CEO of AT&T denied any of that ever happened.

The Trump administration has had a strained relationship with the news network. Bloomberg's source said that the announcement will be about the Justice Department working to block the AT&T/Time Warner deal.

"The relief we're seeking today would CNN exactly where it is right now", the official said.

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