On Monday, AT&T confirmed the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to sue in order to block the company’s plans to purchase Time Warner for $85.4 billion. Earlier reports suggested that the DOJ would move against the deal if AT&T did not intend to sell CNN.
CNN has a famously fraught relationship with the Trump administration, which has gone out of its way to attack the news source throughout both campaign season and Trump’s first year in office. It’s not immediately clear why the Trump administration would oppose the AT&T deal, a vertical merger that would not eliminate a competitor and was not expected to generate antitrust controversy.
AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel David R. McAtee issued a statement speaking out against the news as it broke:
Today’s DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent. Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market. We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently.
Our merger combines Time Warner’s content and talent with AT&T’s TV, wireless and broadband distribution platforms. The result will help make television more affordable, innovative, interactive and mobile. Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter. Rather, it bears the burden of proving to the U.S. District Court that the transaction violates the law. We are confident that the Court will reject the Government’s claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent.