AT&T's wireless giant decided last year to seperate WarnerMedia, which was purchased in 2018 for $81billion after a lengthy antitrust battle against the Trump-era Justice Department. WarnerMedia, which is home to CNN, HBO, and HBO Max, will then merge with Discovery, the parent network of networks such as HGTV, and its own streaming service Discovery+.
Discovery Inc. stated in Wednesday's filing that it and AT&T Inc. had not received objections from either the Department of Justice nor the Federal Trade Commission during the key review period. Although it is possible for the U.S. antitrust authorities to still file suit, this is rare. The deal is expected close in the second quarter. European antitrust regulators have already approved it. It must be approved by Discovery shareholders.
Betsy Lordan, spokesperson for the FTC, stated that the FTC does not announce when it is issuing complaints. Arlen Morales, spokesperson for DOJ, declined to comment. AT&T referred Discovery questions.
It was not without controversy. Democratic legislators in December requested that DOJ examine the merger. They stated that it raised "significant antitrust concerns" which could pose a threat to the industry's efforts to promote diversity at work.
The Biden administration called for a stricter version of antitrust enforcement and sued to stop a $2.2 billion acquisition by Bertelsmann's Penguin Random House of Simon & Schuster. They also pursued an antitrust suit against Facebook (now known as Meta) that could lead to spinoffs of some its businesses.