DOJ appeal of AT&T-Time Warner merger decision sets court date for oral arguments

att vs doj
AT&T and the Justice Department are getting another day in court. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

The twisting saga of AT&T’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner and the U.S. Justice Department’s attempt to block it is officially nearing another landmark.

Dec. 6 has been set as the date when the D.C. Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the case. At stake will be whether Judge Richard Leon’s decision to allow the merger without conditions is allowed to stand.

In August when the DOJ filed its appeal of the decision, it argued that the combination of AT&T and Time Warner will allow AT&T to jack up prices on its distributor rivals for Time Warner’s content, while also protecting its own distribution businesses from arising competition.

“The district court held otherwise, but only by erroneously ignoring fundamental principles of economics and common sense. These errors distorted its view of the evidence and rendered its factual findings clearly erroneous, and they are the subject of this appeal,” the DOJ wrote.

Specifically, the DOJ said that the court’s reasoning for allowing the merger is “contrary to fundamental economic logic.”

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For its part, AT&T has continued with its post-acquisition integration as planned, renaming Time Warner as WarnerMedia amid a wider reorganization of the company.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the DOJ’s appeal won’t change AT&T’s plans

"This isn't a chance for a do-over. It just doesn't work that way," Stephens said. He said that the judge did a "thorough review."

"We are expecting to continue to move on in the current state with the deal closed,” said Stephens. “We feel very confident that the deal is closed and we will be able to operate moving forward.”