U.S. Department of Justice Files Appeal to Block AT&T and Time Warner Merger
A month after a judge approved AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner with no conditions, the United States Department of Justice has announced plans to appeal the merger's approval.
In a court document filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the DoJ announced its formal appeal. No additional data was included in the initial document.
Notice is hereby given that the United States of America, plaintiff in the above named case, appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the final judgment entered in this action on June 12, 2018.
AT&T first announced its plan to purchase Time Warner in late 2017, but the acquisition was put on hold when the DoJ filed a lawsuit to put a stop to the merger based on the grounds that it would result in higher bills and fewer options for consumers.
A judge in June, however, ruled that the merger was legal, and while the Justice Department said it was disappointed in the court's ruling and would consider its next steps "in light of [its] commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers," it ultimately decided not to interfere with a stay at the time that the ruling was announced.
Just days after the judge's approval, AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner, but the DoJ is still able to appeal the decision even after the completion of the merger.
Shortly after the acquisition, AT&T announced a new WatchTV service that offers AT&T wireless subscribers under the new "AT&T Unlimited &More" and "AT&T Unlimited &More Premium" plans access to more than 30 live channels and 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand. These new plans are more expensive than AT&T's previous unlimited wireless plans, but includes WatchTV. On a standalone basis, WatchTV is $15 per month.
While AT&T said that its prices would not increase following the merger, it raised prices on its DirecTV Now plans by $5. AT&T also recently raised its administrative fees for postpaid wireless subscribers to $1.99, which some analysts have speculated is to make up for the expense of the Time Warner purchase.
Update: AT&T has released a statement on the DoJ's decision to appeal: "The Court's decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned. While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised the DoJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances. We are ready to defend the court's decision at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals."