In a scathing opinion, Leon concluded that the government had failed to show competitive harm and urged the US government not to seek a stay of his ruling pending a potential appeal, saying it would be "manifestly unjust" to do so and not likely to succeed.
The Justice Department had sued to block the merger, in light of the latter potential consequences. According to a scheduling order, AT&T has agreed not to complete the acquisition for six days to allow time for an appeal. "AT&T Watch would be a very low end, very thin collection of products, and I think this one will be based on getting the Time Warner deal done", AT&T's CEO John Stephens said.
"We are disappointed with the Court's decision today", Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said in a statement.
The US Department of Justice-the nation's antitrust authority-sued to block the deal late previous year, arguing that Time Warner's media brands like HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN would give AT&T outsized power, hurt competition, and lead to higher prices for consumers. And the company said it plans to close the merger, which was announced a year and a half ago, on or before June 20.
We thank the Court for its thorough and timely examination of the evidence, and we compliment our colleagues at the Department of Justice on their dedicated representation of the government.
FBN's Edward Lawrence discusses Comcast's $65 billion bid for 21st Century Fox assets.
Shares of AT&T spiked immediately after the announcement and are now down about 2% in after-hours trading.
"Brian Roberts and Team Comcast are cleared to bid", BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield told CNNMoney after the ruling. Fox's film and studio content was expected to serve as key components of Disney's upcoming branded streaming service, which is set for release in 2019.
A Comcast spokesperson declined to comment. On Tuesday, a judge threw out U.S. government objections to AT&T's takeover of Fox's rival Time Warner.
Some of AT&T's top executives traveled to Washington for the announcement. United Kingdom regulators have given the OK to that offer if Fox sells Sky News.
The government argued during the trial that if AT&T were to own Time Warner, it could violate antitrust law by using its market power to get higher prices from TV distributors.
In this October 24, 2016, file photo, clouds are reflected in the glass facade of the Time Warner building in NY.
The approval on Tuesday, which both the Department of Justice and President Donald Trump had voiced opposition to, is likely to fuel more mergers in the space, Wall Street believes. Ultimately, the government argued this would harm competition and innovation as well as raise prices for consumers.
The Justice Department sought AT&T to divest CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting or DirecTV, the big satellite-television operator, to gain Justice Department approvals for the deal.
UBS analyst John Hodulik said the deal could accretive to EPS but that the long-term effect will depend on AT&T's ability to leverage Time Warner's content and accelerate the advanced advertising business.
During the trial, the judge heard from dozens of witnesses, including AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes.
The AT&T and Time Warner merger has officially been approved.