USA 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 US Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly set to sue the company to block its $84.5 billion takeover of Time Warner, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

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

"This merger would greatly harm American consumers", Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the DOJ's antitrust division said in a statement.

"The present D.O.J. claim is a radical and mystifying takeoff from many years of antitrust point of reference", AT&T's general direction, David McAtee, said in an announcement.

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The lawsuit would be the first time in decades the DOJ has sued to block a so-called "vertical deal" between two companies that aren't direct competitors. In 2011, for example, the office affirmed a comparative arrangement - Comcast's obtaining of NBCUniversal - in the wake of forcing various conditions on the exchange.

The Trump administration has had a strained relationship with the news network. "Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn't have the final say in this matter". AT&T owns nationwide satellite provider DirecTV; Time Warner's channels also include TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and HBO.

The lawsuit also said AT&T and Comcast, which control nearly half of the pay-TV market, "would have an increased incentive and ability to harm competition by impending online competitors they consider a threat".

"We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently", the statement said. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at the time that his company would not sell any assets and would fight the DOJ in court.

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