WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday approved the blockbuster merger between AT&T and Time Warner, rebuffing the government’s effort to block the $85.4 billion deal, in a decision that is expected to unleash a wave of takeovers in corporate America.
The judge, Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court in Washington, said the Justice Department had not proved that the telecom company’s acquisition of Time Warner would lead to fewer choices for consumers and higher prices for television and internet services.
The merger would create a media and telecommunications powerhouse, reshaping the landscape of those industries. The combined company would have a library that includes HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones” and channels like CNN, along with vast distribution reach through wireless and satellite television services across the country.
Media executives increasingly say that content creation and distribution must be married to survive against rising technology companies like Amazon and Netflix. Those two companies started making their own programming in just the last several years. But those tech companies now spend billions of dollars a year on original programming, and users can stream their video on apps in homes and on mobile devices, pulling attention from traditional media businesses.
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