DOJ won't ask judge to delay AT&T-Time Warner merger

The government might still appeal the court's decision though.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Kena Betancur / AFP/Getty Images

The Justice Department will allow AT&T and Time Warner to complete their merger. 

The government said in a joint court filing Thursday it won't ask a judge for a stay that would freeze the deal while it decides whether to appeal.

The deal could close as early as Friday.

federal judge ruled Tuesday that the government had failed to prove that AT&T's proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner would harm consumers. The Department of Justice sued AT&T in October to block the deal, arguing the combined company would have too much power over competitors, ultimately leading to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers. 

The government could still appeal the decision. According to the court filing, Daniel Petrocelli, the attorney for AT&T and Time Warner, said the Justice Department "has no objection to closing this merger as soon as possible, including later this week, and will forego a request for a stay pending appeal."

Watch this: AT&T fends off Trump's DoJ fight to block Time Warner merger

The merger, which combines one of the largest communications network providers with a major player in the entertainment market, is poised to shake up the media world. It's already triggered the announcement of a possible deal between Comcast and Fox, which already has an agreement to sell its entertainment assets to Walt Disney. The potential deals come at a time when traditional media and internet service providers see online giants like Google and Facebook as the key competitive threat.

In his opinion, Judge Richard Leon warned the government against requesting a stay, saying if the action was granted, it'd likely cause the deal to fall apart. The companies had set a deadline of June 21 for the deal to close. If the deadline wasn't met, the companies could cancel the merger and AT&T would owe Time Warner a $500 million break-up fee.  

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.

Fight the Power: Take a look at who's transforming the way we think about energy.