Comcast Makes Bid For 21st Century Fox In Big Hollywood Power Play

Comcast Officially Puts in $65 Billion Bid for 21st Century Fox, Topping Disney's Current Bid

That leverage would allow AT&T to raise prices for Time Warner content, with those costs being passed on to consumers, according to the Justice Department.

Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia said at a hearing that he has found, after a six-week trial, that the deal does not violate antitrust law and can proceed.

The bid, $35 per share in cash, is roughly 24% higher than Disney's previous offer of $52 billion for the company's production assets and movie franchises. "Opposition to the Time Warner acquisition marked an aggressive turn by the Justice Department, but one that could be short-lived if Leon rules against the government".

A United States judge today cleared the AT&T merger with Time Warner. As such, Comcast has improved an offer it discussed with Fox past year by saying it's offering $2.5 billion in case the deal doesn't go through and would reimburse Fox for another $1.5 billion it will owe Disney for breaking their arrangement.

Disney and Comcast had already been at battle in the United Kingdom over Sky TV.

Initially, the companies planned to use a "selective enforcement" defense, alleging that the administration was blocking the deal because of Trump's disdain for CNN.

"This will be a blockbuster summer for media mergers", said Mary Ann Halford, senior adviser to OC&C Strategy Consultants.

The decision could also increase the likelihood that the cellphone network T-Mobile will be granted permission to acquire its rival Sprint for $26 billion, and that the Rhode Island-based drugstore chain CVS Health could win approval to buy Aetna, an insurance company, for $68 billion.

Opponents of the AT&T decision also predicted more deals. The company could offer to sell off assets that the government says could contribute to anti-competitive practices.

Now, the phone and pay-TV giant will be allowed to absorb the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie studio, "Game of Thrones", coveted sports programming and other "must-see" shows.

"We are disappointed with the Court's decision today", Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said in a statement.

The deal is what is known as a vertically integrated merger: a joining of two companies that do not directly compete with each other. She since met with Delrahim, and on Tuesday urged the DOJ to appeal.

Cornell law professor George Hay added that the ruling found the government's evidence lacking, rather than a broader determination of how vertical mergers affected competition.

AT&T, in turn, said it needs Time Warner to have a fighting chance against tech giants like Google and Facebook.

The government argued that AT&T would gain outsize market power, jacking up the prices it charges cable providers to carry networks in the Time Warner stable. That could give it a leg up over rival live streaming platforms that do not own content, media analysts have said.

The AT&T lawsuit is the first time in decades that a government challenge of a "vertical merger" - involving two companies that do not directly compete - has gone to court. Time Warner also owns a 10 percent stake in Hulu.

"We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner".

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