The WarnerMedia merger with Discovery has officially been given the green light.
AT&T has received approval for a plan to spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery, as disclosed in new filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Variety reports. WarnerMedia is the parent company of HBO, CNN, and more, while Discovery owns brands like HGTV and the Food Network.
The WarnerMedia merger with Discovery was announced by AT&T in May 2021, and it "will create one of the biggest media companies in the country," The New York Times writes. Last year, a group of Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that the deal "raises significant antitrust concerns," Axios reports.
"The merger threatens to enhance the market power of the combined firm and substantially lessen competition in the media and entertainment industry, harming both consumers and American workers," the Democrats argued.
The lawmakers also said "recent consolidation in the media and entertainment marketplace has led to higher prices for consumers, and all too often the merging parties have failed to deliver benefits and broken promises made to the public, to Congress, and to antitrust enforcers." AT&T CEO John Stankey dismissed the lawmakers' letter, saying the "foundation of their concerns" was "not very strong" and "there's nothing unusual about this transaction," per Variety.
According to Axios, the merger now only needs to be approved by Discovery shareholders, and it's expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.