AT&T's bid to buy Time Warner was threatened when the Justice Department moved to block it – but now, thanks to a judge's ruling, the deal will go through.

AT&T first announced its intention to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion in 2016. But the deal could still have been scuttled if it didn't pass regulatory muster. And President Donald Trump's Justice Department did, in fact, move to kill the deal with an antitrust lawsuit filed in November of that same year. Some observers speculated that the decision was influenced by the President's animosity toward Time Warner and, in particular, its subsidiary CNN. Whatever the reasoning, the strategy appeared to be a legal long shot, and its fate was effectively sealed by Monday's court decision.

The ruling may have been expected, but that doesn't mean that it's not consequential. AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner will raise major net neutrality concerns. Disney's bid for 21st Century Fox is now more likely than ever to meet with a competing bid from Comcast, which has now been effectively reassured that a Comcast-21st Century Fox deal would not be blocked by regulators. And, of course, AT&T – already a titan in the worlds of mobile communications, satellite TV, and streaming media – will gain a huge stable of media properties and other businesses.