Judge approves $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner deal

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that AT&T can move forward with its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said at a hearing that he has found, after a six-week trial, that the deal does not violate antitrust law and can proceed.

The ruling blesses the $85 billion merger, one of the biggest media deals ever. It allows AT&T, a phone and pay-TV giant, to absorb the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie studio, “Game of Thrones,” coveted sports programming and other “must-see” shows.

The judge rejected the government’s argument that the merger would hurt competition in pay TV and cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars more to stream TV and movies. The ruling will likely be seen by tech and telecom giants as a green light to pursue a slew of major media acquisitions.

The Department of Justice could decide to appeal the verdict. AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.