WASHINGTON (Reuters) - AT&T told a federal judge late Thursday it should reject any request by the U.S. Justice Department to force it to divest its DirecTV unit or Turner networks as part of approving its proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc.
The publication of the closing briefs from both sides brings to end the trial over a deal which took on broader political significance immediately after it was announced in October 2016.
President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of Time Warner’s CNN network, attacked the deal on the campaign trail last year, vowing that as president the Justice Department would block it.
Last week, a Justice Department attorney said Judge Richard Leon should consider requiring AT&T to make a “partial divestiture.”
The Justice Department had urged AT&T last year to divest either DirecTV, the largest pay TV company with more than 20 million subscribers, or TimeWarner’s Turner networks because the government said AT&T could use Time Warner content as a “weapon” to raise prices.
The Justice Department had demanded divestitures because it argued that ATT would have the ability to raise prices on Time Warner content for pay TV rivals.
“Divestitures here would destroy the very consumer value this merger is designed to unlock. Divesting DirecTV would eliminate the price decrease for millions of DirecTV consumers predicted by the government itself, and divesting Turner would eliminate the content innovations and the advertising benefits that put downward pressure on Turner prices,” the company said in a court filing.