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We thank the Court for its thorough and timely examination of the evidence, and we compliment our colleagues at the Department of Justice on their dedicated representation of the government.

AT&T would use its leverage over the must-have shows, in particular HBO's Game of Thrones or National Basketball Association games on TNT, to charge Comcast or Verizon more than it would charge itself for distributing Time Warner channels, giving itself a competitive advantage, the government claimed.

The ruling is a major victory for the Dallas-based telecom giant, which has waited for about 20 months to move forward with the acquisition of the New York-based media and entertainment company.

Court approves AT&T-Time Warner merger.

Beyond media and telecom, the ruling could affect the Justice Department's stance toward other big deals in the works, such as CVS's proposed purchase of Aetna.

The Department of Justice could decide to appeal the verdict. For example, Comcast is reportedly eager to gobble up some of 21st Century Fox's assets.

Nonetheless, Niknam thinks AT&T's transition to more streaming services could weigh on profitability this year.

The judge's decision, which is allowing AT&T to merge with Time Warner without conditions, shows the federal government may struggle to rein in such mergers.

The AT&T-Time Warner merger is a direct result of media companies like Netflix and Amazon creating and distributing content through alternative means to traditional cable. Those two companies started making their own programming in just the last several years.

AT&T has argued that a merger consolidating control over both sides of content operations would enable it to collect valuable customer data, which it could then use to sell high-priced targeted advertising.

Trump's feud with Time Warner's CNN raised questions that his administration may have influenced the Justice Department's decision to challenge deal.

Judge Leon said the United States failed to prove the merger would give Time Warner increased power to negotiate fees for its content.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected the government's argument that the AT&T-Time Warner combination would hurt competition in pay TV and cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars more to stream TV and movies. In a statement, Delrahim said he was "disappointed" in the ruling but stopped short of saying his division would appeal, saying only that it would "consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition".

Consummation of the deal could also trigger other mega-mergers in the US TV and telco markets. Looming in the background of the deal has been Trump's long-running feud with Time Warner's CNN, which he has often derided as "failing" and a purveyor of "fake news". NY time in a D.C. courtroom that'll likely be packed with lawyers, journalists and investors.

AT&T had initially sought to argue that the government's opposition was fuelled by political objections from US President Donald Trump, who criticised the takeover during the 2016 election campaign.

Shares of AT&T spiked immediately after the announcement and are now down about 2% in after-hours trading.