NEW YORK (CNNfn) -- Time Warner Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. officially closed their $7.5 billion merger Thursday after shareholders of both companies voted overwhelmingly to approve the deal.
A total of 99.75 percent of Turner's shareholders voted to approve the merger about five hours after 98.23 percent of Time Warner shareholders voted for the deal Thursday morning. The approval and closing moves Time Warner out in front of The Walt Disney Co. as the world's largest media company.
The combined operations of Time Warner-TBS will embrace everything from news around-the-clock to magazines, as well as Bugs Bunny and the Atlanta Braves.
TBS is the parent company of CNNfn and CNNfn.com.
Time Warner Chairman Jerry Levin recently told employees of both companies that "a culture of creativity, of journalistic independence, of artistic ambition and excellence" will continue.
Time Warner president Richard Parson said vice chairman Ted Turner will be closely involved in the operation. (199K WAV) or (199K AIFF)
Turner and Levin have told employees of both companies that cuts -- in the form of both job losses and expense reductions -- are on the way.
Turner, who is now Time Warner's largest shareholder, has been pressuring the company to reduce costs. Published reports Thursday indicated that Time Warner is planning $600 million in cost cuts and "revenue enhancement" -- or double the $300 million originally anticipated.
Although the deal is now closed, the legal wrangling surrounding the merger is not over. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Ltd. Wednesday filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against Time Warner after the company decided not to carry Murdoch's Fox News Channel on its cable system in New York City.
Also, some consumer advocates worry that the new media giant might raise cable rates or keep program competitors off its cable systems.
"Basically, you've got one and two in programming and one and two in system operations now all interconnected in a little knot," said Mark Cooper, research director at the Consumer Federation of America.
"We don't see how that can help competition, and ultimately we think it results in the restriction in the program that gets to the public and higher prices," Cooper said.
But federal regulators have scrutinized the deal, changed it in some ways, and then approved it.
While some assert that giant media companies will homogenize culture, others say that fear is unfounded.
"If you look at what you're really doing with Turner, [you are] combining someone who has a huge number of channels and the capability of creating more channels with someone who's got a lot of content in Time Warner, said Dennis McAlpine, media analyst with Josephthal Lyon & Ross.
"Combine that content with the Turner content and you're probably going to see more channels created," McAlpine said. (QuickTime movie, 1.7MB)
The result for consumers is a multitude of media choices controlled by a minimum of media companies.