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Opening arguments in the AT&T-Time Warner antitrust trial are delayed because of an expected snowstorm

Opening arguments in the AT&T-Time Warner antitrust trial are delayed because of an expected snowstorm
The Justice Department sued last fall to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner. Above, the AT&T logo is positioned above one of its stores in New York in 2016. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Opening arguments in the antitrust trial to block AT&T Inc.'s planned purchase of Time Warner Inc. were delayed until Thursday because of a snowstorm forecast to hit Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon announced the one-day delay Tuesday as he finished a hearing to hash out disputes about evidence between the companies and the Department of Justice, which has sued to block the $85-billion deal.

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Lawyers for both sides had been scheduled to deliver opening arguments Wednesday, with AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson and Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes expected to be in attendance.

But with snow forecast to start falling Tuesday night and up to six inches of accumulation through Wednesday, Leon worried the courthouse would be closed because of the weather. He noted that Washington doesn't handle snowstorms very well.

"This isn't Burlington, Vermont," Leon said.

"It's certainly not Los Angeles," responded Daniel Petrocelli, AT&T's lead lawyer in the case who is based in Los Angeles.

The Justice Department sued last fall to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, arguing the deal would hinder competition in the media industry and raise consumer prices.

AT&T and Time Warner are fighting the suit in a trial expected to last six to eight weeks.

Twitter: @JimPuzzanghera

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