Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Government's holdup of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner worries some

Government's holdup of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner worries some

The official the president referred to was DOJ anti-trust chief Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee who has threatened to block the deal in court unless AT&T sells off either Turner Broadcasting or its DirecTV service-the latter option impossible as it would undermine the entire basis of the merger.

The US President's senior adviser Jared Kushner has reportedly filed multiple complaints to CNN regarding the broadcaster's coverage of the US election in 2016.

Trump did again raise the issue of news media consolidation. "This way, at least you can get your word out".

Trump noted that he hasn't made a recent statement on the transaction, but acknowledged speaking out about it earlier.

Trump vowed on the campaign trail previous year to block the merger because "it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

This file combination of pictures shows an AT&T cellphone store (TOP) in Springfield, Virginia, on October 23, 2014, and the Time Warner company logo on the front of the headquarters building, 24 November, 2003 in NY. One analyst whom Bloomberg spoke with at the time even suggested that AT&T consider selling CNN to avoid Trump's meddling.

Stephenson said it was "patently false" to suggest he had offered to sell CNN to win approval. But he did acknowledge getting calls from other people about the possibility of a sale.

Whether pressured by Trump or not, DOJ's reported position on the merger represents a break not only with Delrahim's own past opinions, but with a Republican orthodoxy hesitant to flex regulatory power.

AT&T and Time Warner could sue to challenge the government's legal basis for blocking the transaction or demanding the asset sales.

"We'll see how that - it will probably end up being maybe litigation, maybe not".

Delrahim and other DOJ officials have denied that the President was in any way involved in the negotiations, but Trump's previous comments on the deal have invited speculation to that effect. He added that there should be fear "when an incumbent company, in whatever industry, says, 'I'm here to help you against the evils of dynamic competition from Netflix, Amazon, Google, Facebook'".

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