AT&T CEO Commits to ‘Creative Freedom’ as Time Warner Merger Closes

Randall Stephenson

AT&T announced Thursday evening that it has completed its merger with Time Warner Inc., consummating a deal that was announced 20 months ago.

The final obstacle to the transaction was cleared earlier in the day, as the Department of Justice announced it would not seek to stay U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling approving the merger. In a memo Thursday evening, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson welcomed Time Warner staff into the fold and pledged to provide the resources to support the company’s creativity.

“As different as our businesses are, I think you’ll find we have a lot in common,” Stephenson said. “Like you, we take immense pride in what we do. And we have a passion for always doing the right thing and supporting our communities. We’re big fans of your talent and creativity. And you have my word that you will continue to have the creative freedom and resources to keep doing what you do best.”

In a separate statement, Stephenson said that combining the creative talents of Warner Bros. HBO and Turner with the direct-to-consumer relationships of AT&T would be a boon to consumers.

“We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers,” he said.

On Tuesday, Judge Leon flatly rejected the DOJ’s arguments that the merger would stifle competition and result in higher prices for consumers. In a 172-page opinion, Leon heavily emphasized the threats to traditional media companies posed by streaming providers.

Federal prosecutors have yet to announce whether they will appeal the ruling, but Leon made it clear in his conclusion that he would not grant a stay pending appeal.