AT&T: DOJ Won't Seek Stay of Deal

The Department of Justice won't seek a stay of the court decision approving the AT&T-Time Warner merger, according to a document from AT&T's lawyers obtained by B&C/Multichannel News, which means the company can close the deal as early as Friday (Update: The deal actually closed late Thursday, June 14)..

DOJ waived the post-ruling waiting period for such a stay, which would have delayed the closing.

The letter, from AT&T attorney Daniel Petroccelli to the Department of Justice's antitrust division, it is the company's understanding that DOJ has no objection to closing the merger ASAP, including by week's end, and won't seek a stay.

Judge Richard Leon had said he would not issue a stay in an event. That apparently does not mean DOJ won't appeal, but only that it won't seek the stay that could have held up the closing, which has to happen by Thursday, June 21, or AT&T pays a $500-million break-up fee.

The judge did not apply any conditions on the deal, but AT&T confirmed to Justice that, after the deal, it would manage Turner nets as a separate business unit form AT&T Communications (DirecTV and U-verse), that AT&T Communications won't have a role in setting Turner prices or terms with unaffiliated distributors, and that Turner would not consult with AT&T Communications in setting those prices.

AT&T also said that the number of Turner employees will remain "largely unchanged," as will compensation levels.

AT&T said that beyond managing Turner separately, it would create a firewall between Turner and AT&T Communications to prevent "the transmission or exchange, either directly or indirectly, of competitively sensitive information of unaffiliated programmers or distributors. It defines that information as "contract terms, pricing or negotiations."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.