Justice Department begins talks over $85.4bn AT&T/Time Warner deal
25 July 2017 | James Pearce
Nine months on from announcing its bid to buy Time Warner, AT&T has reportedly begun talks with the US Justice Department over the $85.4 billion deal.
Bloomberg claims the Justice Department has begun exploring conditions for the agreement that could be placed on the combined entity to remedy concerns around competition. Talks are at an early stage, the report claims.
These talks include conversations with representatives from both company, Bloomberg said, citing “people familiar with the matter”.
The Justice Department has been under pressure from competitors of both AT&T and Time Warner, and from politicians, not to just wave through the deal, which was first announced in October.
A group of senators, mostly Democrats, last month urged regulators to block the deal in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, claiming “the combined company’s unmatched control of popular content and the distribution of that content will lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans.”
President Donald Trump has also previously expressed opposition to the deal. On the campaign trail, Trump warned the tie-up would concentrate media power. He has been a vocal critic of news network CNN, part of Time Warner.
Bloomberg cites sources who claimed regulators are asking AT&T to give a vow of good behaviour that would show it won’t create an uncompetitive market to advantage its own programming. Randall Stephenson, CEO at the operator, has previously said AT&T would be open to discussions around conditions that will help ease concerns.
In the meantime, AT&T is focussing on its core business, announcing a deal with Omicom Group that will see it deliver a highly secure network across all of the marketing firm’s locations.
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