Start of trial on AT&T, Time Warner merger may be delayed by one day

FILE PHOTO: An AT&T logo is pictured in Pasadena, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The start date for the trial over whether wireless and pay TV provider AT&T Inc T.N can buy Time Warner Inc T.N may be delayed by a day to March 20, Judge Richard Leon said on Friday.

Leon, who is on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said March 19 may be needed to hear final pre-trial motions so the trial start may be pushed back.

The Justice Department’s Craig Conrath said he opposed any delay because witnesses traveling to Washington for the trial could be inconvenienced.

No final decision on any delay was made.

The Justice Department sued in November to try and stop AT&T, which owns DirecTV, from buying movie and TV show maker Time Warner, arguing the deal would mean higher prices for rival cable and online video distributors and for consumers.

The $85 billion deal has been followed more closely than most antitrust matters because U.S. President Donald Trump attacked it while a candidate in 2016. Trump has also criticized Time Warner’s CNN news network and, in November, he reiterated his opposition to the proposed transaction.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman