Justice continues to maintain merger violates antitrust

A federal appeals court has set a date for oral argument in the Department of Justice's challenge to the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has set oral argument for Dec. 6 at 9:30 a.m.

Final briefs in the challenge are due Oct. 18, according to AT&T.

Related: DOJ Slams AT&T 'Revisionist' Defense of Time Warner Deal

Justice sued to block the deal in district court, but U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled on June 12, after a six-week trial, that the government had failed to prove its case that the merger would violate antitrust laws without spin-offs of either AT&T satellite distribution or Turner programming assets.

Justice then appealed that decision to the D.C. federal circuit.

AT&T counters that a lower court was right to rule that the Justice Department failed to prove that its merger with Time Warner would allow it to raise prices for Turner content (CNN, TNT, and TBS). AT&T said Justice can't meet the burden of proving the lower court erred.

DOJ had sought the divestitures, arguing the combined company could anticompetitively limit access to must-have programming like HBO or regional sports nets by third parties, particularly over-the-top competitors.

The court is expected to announce by early November the composition of the three-judge panel that will be hearing the appeal.

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