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Nod for appeal of AT&T-TimeWarner deal

A US federal appeals court has approved the Justice Department's request for an expedited schedule for an appeal of a ruling that allowed AT&T to buy content provider Time Warner.

The department had said last week it would appeal a federal judge's approval of the $US85.4 billion ($A116.0 billion) acquisition.

The court approved the Justice Department request that legal briefs must be completed by October 18, with oral arguments "as soon as practicable." That would be a significantly faster-than-normal timetable for an appeals court to hear a case.

The Justice Department says AT&T, which owns DirecTV, could use Time Warner's Turner content, especially live sports and news, to raise the costs of smaller, rival pay TV companies.

"The merged firm will have the incentive and the ability to raise its rivals' costs and stifle growth of innovative next-generation entrants," the department said in the filing.

Essentially, they argued, AT&T could push smaller pay TV companies to pay more for Turner's CNN and sports programming, increases that would be passed on to US consumers.

They also argued that withholding Turner content from online distributors, such as Hulu, would stunt the development of cheaper online video.

The Justice Department has said that District Court Judge Richard Leon "rejected fundamental principles of economics" in his decision to rule in favour of the companies merger.

Leon had called one of the government's arguments against the deal "gossamer thin" and another "poppycock."

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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