A federal judge has approved AT&T Inc.’s acquisition of Time Warner Inc., the parent company of Warner Bros. Entertainment in Burbank.
The decision gives AT&T control of Time Warner assets including HBO, CNN and Warner Bros. as well as how that content is distributed across its telecommunications networks. AT&T is one of the nation’s largest telephone, internet and satellite TV providers.
The Department of Justice sued to block the $85 billion bid because it said consumers would likely have to pay more for TV subscriptions since AT&T would be able to demand higher prices to license its programming to other networks. AT&T and Time Warner countered that the move would allow them to better compete with online streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled on Tuesday that the acquisition can proceed without any restrictions or further regulations.
The ruling could clear the path for future “vertical” mergers between media companies and telecommunications giants. Cable television and internet provider Comcast Corp. is reportedly looking to make such a deal for 21st Century Fox, which already has a $52 billion acquisition agreement on the table from Burbank-based Walt Disney Co.
Ethan Varian is a reporter with sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal, where a version of this article first appeared.