WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice and AT&T Inc (T.N) will meet in court for the first time on Thursday as the antitrust regulator attempts to stop the U.S. No. 2 wireless company’s $85 billion purchase of media company Time Warner Inc (TWX.N).
The focus of the hearing is likely to be setting a court date for trial. AT&T has asked the court to hear the case beginning Feb. 20. The government is pressing for May 7.
AT&T and Time Warner announced their deal in October 2016, but it was not until last month that the Justice Department sued AT&T to block the deal, arguing it could raise prices for rivals and pay-TV subscribers and hamper the development of online video.
Under their agreement, AT&T will have to pay Time Warner $500 million if the deal does not close by April 22.
Merging companies facing a government challenge often push…