Updated on June 14, 2022
The Justice Department opposed this merger, arguing the resulting company would be too large and harm consumers. However, US District Judge Richard Leon felt differently, and argued otherwise.
As I previously wrote, I oppose this merger on the grounds that AT&T and Time Warner are both quite large already; consumers will gain nothing by seeing them grow even bigger. That said, the Justice Department’s interest in opposing this merger isn’t driven not by the interest of Americans’ well-being. Instead, it’s mainly driven by Donald Trump’s thin-skinned grudge-carrying.
Trump dislikes CNN for, well, basically not being Fox News; unlike Fox News, CNN actually airs stories that expose the lesser aspects of Trump’s policies. (Yes, TV news has problems, but CNN’s light-years from Fox News in terms of quality/objectiveness.) That’s as opposed to the Trump administration shrugging about (conservative-leaning) Sinclair’s plans to buy Tribune Media’s TV stations. (I’ll ignore the disturbing aspects of a sitting President repeatedly labeling nearly all of the nation’s journalism outlets as “fake news.”)
But assuming the Justice Department doesn’t try to appeal this decision, it’s set to be finalized by June 21 (AT&T and Time Warner are shooting for June 20). So by this time next week, Superman, Daffy Duck, Fred Flintstone, and Anderson Cooper can call Ma Bell “boss.”
A Comcast buyout of Fox’s assets?
Meanwhile, another big ongoing media merger might get disrupted. Comcast is strongly considering trying to outbid Disney for Fox’s assets. Comcast-owned Fox assets still wouldn’t be good news for media diversity, of course. (Update 6/13/18: Comcast cast its own bid for Fox, offering $65 billion.)
From a comics/animation standpoint, Comcast buying Fox’s assets would place “The Simpsons,” the “Ice Age” franchise, and the movie rights for the X-Men and Fantastic Four under the same corporate umbrella as the “Despicable Me” franchise, Dreamworks, and Universal Studios. Bad news for comic fans hoping to get Wolverine and company under Marvel Studios’ ownership. Not to mention the question whether a Comcast buyout will impact the current Marvel Comics comeback for the Fantastic Four.
As the New York Times notes, it’d be up to Fox to decide whether it’s worth going with Comcast over Disney. The former might offer more money, but have more obstacles regarding antitrust aspects, etc. That said, I’d assume Fox Sports would be left out of a Comcast buyout to lessen merger problems, just as it is with Disney’s offer.