U.S. sues to stop AT&T buying Time Warner, says would hike rates

The Justice Department is suing to block the AT&T - Time Warner merger, says report

The Justice Department intends to sue AT&T to stop its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of the suit's official filing.

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

A federal court judge will determine whether to block the deal by weighing the government's case against AT&T's claim its merger with Time Warner will benefit consumers. AT&T owns nationwide satellite provider DirecTV; Time Warner's channels also include TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and HBO.

AT&T reaffirmed its plans to challenge the government's lawsuit, arguing that its plan is a "vertical" merger without competitive overlap.

"Today's DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent", AT&T's general counsel, David McAtee, said in a statement.

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By testing the arrangement, the Justice Department is adopting a starkly unique strategy to antitrust issues than the Obama organization did.

"AT&T/DirecTV would hinder its rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for Time Warner's networks, and it would use its increased power to slow the industry's transition to new and exciting video distribution models that provide greater choice for consumers". The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

"Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so", Randall Stephenson said in a statement provided to ABC News.

The move may be a pointer that the Trump administration will look closely at other big merger deals.

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