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AT&T battled the DOJ to buy Time Warner, only to spin it out again three years later

Mount Equity Group Tokyo, Japan > News > Tech > AT&T battled the DOJ to buy Time Warner, only to spin it out again three years later

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TDISCAThen-WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey speaks in 2016.John Lamparski | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Just three years ago, AT&T finally closed its $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner, ending a protracted battle with the Justice Department under then-President Donald Trump, which sought to block the deal.

Now it’s spinning off its media assets from the deal to combine with Discovery to create a content giant. If the deal is approved by regulators, AT&T will receive $43 billion in cash, debt and WarnerMedia’s retention of some debt, while effectively undoing its earlier merger. The companies said they expect the deal to close in the middle of 2022.

The deal marks a stark change in direction for AT&T after it spent a year fighting to buy Time Warner to create a vertically integrated empire of both content and distribution. The company that fought so hard for brands such as CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. just a few years ago is now ready to let them go.

The shift highlights how fast the media landscape has changed, as people switch away from pay TV and toward streaming video services in record numbers. The competition for those subscribers is fierce, underscored by the launch