AT&T CEO says he won't sell CNN as antitrust tension rises
- Author: Joey Payne Nov 10, 2017,
Nov 10, 2017, 0:39
Some sources say AT&T floated the possibility of selling CNN or other assets.
To win approval of the deal, AT&T hired lobbyists close to Vice President Mike Pence and others in the Trump administration. He declared that AT&T was firm in its decision to take over Time Warner.
AT&T hopes to benefit from marrying all of Time Warner's assets to its own. "Beyond that, the Department does not comment on any pending investigation". While lawmakers are calling the uproar political, the Justice Department's new leadership is taking a different view of the anticompetitive issues surrounding the deal than its predecessors under Barack Obama.
"The Department of Justice, in particular, has an obligation to ensure "equal justice under law".
The host argued that Trump's frequently public comments against CNN, or his "obsession" as he puts it, would be noteworthy to a judge should the DOJ block the merger.
CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson has said he never told antitrust regulators he would sell CNN. The Justice Department would have to argue that AT&T would have an incentive to withhold Turner channels like CNN or its National Basketball Association on TNT from rival broadband distributors like Verizon or Comcast. Two people briefed on the talks told Reuters the government has sought as long as 10 years for such conditions while AT&T has pressed for a shorter period. Many criticized the move, stating it would lead to a concentration of media power.
Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies are all part of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who delayed Delrahim's confirmation for weeks, asked the antitrust chief last month to recuse himself from the review because of those comments.
Antitrust regulators in the USA and AT&T held tense discussions on Wednesday over whether the second largest wireless carrier in the US would have to sell CNN a Timer Warner cable network as one of the conditions of receiving approval of its takeover bid for the media company. Ethics officials reviewed the interview and determined recusal isn't required, the department told Warren.
The White House has said that Trump "did not speak with the attorney general about this matter" and that "no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter".
The potential for any White House influence has raised concerns, the group says, given Trump's outspoken criticism of CNN, one of Time Warner's properties, and its coverage of his campaign and White House.
To block the deal, Justice Department lawyers would have to successfully show that these effects would hurt consumers in the form of higher prices or fewer choices, antitrust lawyers said. "The Justice Department appears to be doing its job", he said in a statement.