The Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division filed notice Thursday that it will appeal federal District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling allowing telecom giant AT&T and content creator Time Warner’s merger to go through.
The government will now seek a reversal of that ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the court which handles most of the leading antitrust cases.
The DOJ’s case to stop the merger is one of the largest anti-trust actions of this generation and a centerpiece in the strategy of Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, the head of the Antitrust Division.
The case is one of the first major antitrust cases of the digital era brought to prevent what is known as a “vertical integration” — when a merger combines companies up and down the supply chain; in this case, merging a content creator (Time Warner) and the telecom, cable, and satellite provider that will carry that content (AT&T, which already owns DirectTV).
Government action against vertical integration has been comparatively rare in recent decades, with the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) more generally concerned with the anti-competitive effect of “horizontal integration,” where two companies that are competitors in the same space become one, and abusive practices by organically created monopolies.