AT&T urges appeals court to let Time Warner merger stand

AT&T urges appeals court to let Time Warner merger stand
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AT&T asked an appeals court on Thursday to reject the Justice Department’s challenge of a federal judge’s decision approving its $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

The telecom giant, which closed the merger in June, responded to the Justice Department’s appeal on Thursday, arguing that prosecutors failed to prove during trial that the deal would hurt competition and raise prices for consumers.

“In the crucible of litigation, DOJ’s claims were exposed as both narrow and fragile,” AT&T wrote in its filing on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

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"We were pleased to respond to the government's opening brief and look forward to oral argument,” David McAtee, AT&T’s general counsel, said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon approved the merger unconditionally in June following a six-week trial, during which the Justice Department urged the deal be blocked outright. Leon dismissed the government’s argument that the deal would allow AT&T to extract higher prices from competitors for Time Warner’s popular programming.

AT&T and Time Warner merged days after the decision, with the new company rebranded as Warner Media.

The Justice Department then appealed Leon’s ruling, accusing the judge of “erroneously ignoring fundamental principles of economics and common sense.”

AT&T shot back Thursday, arguing that the the Justice Department’s economic arguments fell apart at trial and urging the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Leon’s decision.

Both sides will have another chance to make their case at oral arguments before the appeals court, though a date for the hearing has not been set.