Big: Judge rules AT&T can proceed with Time-Warner acquisition

Big: Judge rules AT&T can proceed with Time-Warner acquisition

[Ed. – This will potentially have ramifications beyond broadcasting.  Media conglomeration in general is almost certain to be affected.  For the moment, however, media watchers are transfixed by the prospect of Comcast (and Disney) shark-circling Fox, among other unchained developments.  Note that Comcast already owns NBC, as Disney already owns ABC.  Either one buying Fox would be a media move of a size we really haven’t seen before.  Note: Judge Leon was appointed by Bush 43 and has generally been somewhere on the libertarian-originalist end of the spectrum.]

A federal judge said Tuesday that AT&T’s $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner is legal, clearing the path for a deal that gives the pay-TV provider ownership of cable channels such as HBO and CNN as well as film studio Warner Bros.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon did not impose conditions on the merger’s approval. He also urged the government not to seek a stay when issuing his decision in a closed-door room with reporters. …

The outcome of the trial could spur a wave of deals in the telecom and media industries, as well as clear the way for future vertical mergers, where a company buys its supplier. Comcast has been eyeing a similar merger to combine production and distribution in a competing bid for Twenty-First Century Fox and was preparing to announce an offer as soon as Wednesday if Leon ruled in favor of AT&T in the trial, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

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