clear
Thursday November 23rd, 2017 6:19AM

AT&T deal delay? Reports say gov't wants TV properties sold

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T says it's uncertain when its $85 billion deal for Time Warner will close, making investors worry that regulators may try to block it or require significant changes.

Reports from The New York Times , CNN and other outlets, citing unidentified people, said the Justice Department wants to require the companies to sell Turner Broadcasting, which houses CNN, TBS and TNT; or to sell satellite TV provider DirecTV, which AT&T bought in 2015.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement, "I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so." AT&T officials did not immediately respond to other questions, nor did Time Warner or the Justice Department.

AT&T had previously targeted the end of the year for closing the deal, and Wall Street analysts had widely expected the deal to go through. Obama-era regulators in 2011 approved a similar media merger, cable company Comcast's purchase of NBCUniversal, after Comcast agreed to a slew of business requirements.

At an investors conference Wednesday, AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said he could not comment on discussions with Justice, which he described as ongoing.

"But with those discussions, I can now say that the timing of the closing of the deal is now uncertain," he added.

If AT&T and Justice cannot agree to conditions, Justice can sue to block the deal.

Time Warner shares dropped 4.8 percent to $90.10 in afternoon trading Wednesday. AT&T stock rose less than 1 percent, to $33.29.

The Justice Department's new antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, has said he prefers "structural" changes to a deal, like selling off assets, rather than having the government monitor a company's promises to abide by certain conditions, as was done with Comcast. Requiring AT&T to sell either Turner or DirecTV would be in line with Delrahim's thinking.

Objections to the deal have also raised suspicions of political retaliation.

President Donald Trump has often blasted CNN for its coverage of him and his administration, disparaging it and its reporters as "fake news." As a candidate, Trump vowed to block the deal because it concentrated too much "power in the hands of too few."

"While there are plenty of good reasons to oppose AT&T's Time Warner takeover, punishing CNN for trying to hold this administration accountable isn't one of them," Free Press' president, Craig Aaron, said in a statement. The consumer group opposes the deal and media consolidation in general.

Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, tweeted that "Presidential power must be used wisely and fairly. I don't know the details here but this is worth investigating."

AT&T hopes to benefit from marrying all of Time Warner's assets to its own. It would then supply its video — HBO, CNN, TBS and the Warner Bros. movie studio — while providing access to the internet for millions of Americans.

Consumer groups, some TV networks and some conservative groups have criticized the deal, saying it would hurt consumers by allowing AT&T to discriminate against TV networks it doesn't own or raise prices on other cable and satellite TV companies for its programming. Several Democratic lawmakers have also pushed back against the combination.

Forcing a sale of CNN could harm the news network, if a buyer doesn't have the same deep pockets as AT&T and Time Warner to support newsgathering.

Being forced to sell off Turner is probably a "nonstarter" for AT&T, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said. He said the company has "very good" prospects of winning in court against the Justice Department. "It's difficult to imagine an antitrust argument that will be compelling" from the government, he said.

AT&T has long noted that "vertical mergers" — when one company buys another that isn't a direct competitor — are typically approved.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Online TV News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'Obamacare' sign-ups top 600k in first week
HealthCare.gov sign-ups top 600k in first week; nearly 8 in 10 are returning customers
10:12PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Despite Trump's scorn, early 'Obamacare' sign-ups top 600k
Despite President Donald Trump's efforts to take down "Obamacare," more than 600,000 people signed up for coverage the first week of open enrollment, the government said Thursday.
10:10PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Senate GOP tax bill would delay biz cut, undo deductions
The Senate unveils its version of the Republicans' high-stakes tax overhaul with billions in tax cuts for people and corporations and repeal of the federal deduction for state and local taxes.
10:07PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
10 Things to Know for Friday
Among 10 Things to Know: Bombshell claim upends Senate campaign of ex-Alabama judge Roy Moore; Syria deal in works ahead of likely Trump-Putin meeting; Cowboys' star running back loses appeal.
8:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
'Magnum, P.I.' actor John Hillerman dies at 84
The family of actor John Hillerman says the co-star of TV's "Magnum, P.I." has died
8:17PM ( 2 hours ago )
Report: 5 women accuse Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct
Comedian Louis C.K. is accused of sexual misconduct, including masturbating in front of several women, in a New York Times report
8:16PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Fox News hires former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka
Fox News has hired President Donald Trump's former aide Sebastian Gorka as a contributor
12:11PM ( 10 hours ago )
Will it be AT&T vs the government in $85B Time Warner deal?
AT&T now says it's "uncertain" when its $85 billion Time Warner purchase will close
7:13PM ( 1 day ago )
AT&T deal delay? Reports say gov't wants TV properties sold
AT&T now says it's "uncertain" when its $85 billion Time Warner purchase will close
3:55PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online TV News
Pullout from Pacific Rim trade pact leaves US on sidelines
Trump's decision to withdraw from a far-reaching Pacific Rim trade pact is having scant impact on fast-growing trade in the region
9:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hawaii boat wreck shows eco-risk of fishing fleet practices
A fishing boat that ran aground off the shores of Hawaii's Waikiki last month while transporting foreign fishing industry workers is still leaking fuel and oil into the ocean
8:37PM ( 1 hour ago )
China signs on to Alaska gas pipeline, but it's far from set
The latest push in a decadeslong effort to commercialize Alaska's natural gas got a boost from a deal with three Chinese companies, but the $43 billion project is far from reality.
8:20PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Department stores: Macy's sales fall, Kohl's profit drops
Macy's sales fall and Kohl's reports a drop in quarterly profit, underscoring challenges for holiday season
6:00PM ( 4 hours ago )
Industrial and tech stocks fall on potential tax cut delay
US stocks slide after Senate Republicans propose delaying a cut in corporate tax rates for a year
4:58PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: White House hails 'important step' on tax bill
The White House is praising the House Ways and Means Committee for approving the Republican Party's tax cut package
4:12PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Sheriff: Wildfires point to usefulness of old technology
The sheriff in a remote California county says wildfires last month crippled modern technology including cellphones, land lines and internet
8:20PM ( 2 hours ago )
Zuckerberg nears end of US tour, wants to boost small biz
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg toured the US, to discover that he wants to help out small businesses
4:08PM ( 6 hours ago )
Selfies and surveillance: North Korea's new connectivity
For Kim Jong Un, North Korea's first leader to come of age with the Internet, the idea of a more wired nation is both dangerous and irresistible
3:33PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Technology News
'Obamacare' sign-ups top 600k in first week
HealthCare.gov sign-ups top 600k in first week; nearly 8 in 10 are returning customers
10:12PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Despite Trump's scorn, early 'Obamacare' sign-ups top 600k
Despite President Donald Trump's efforts to take down "Obamacare," more than 600,000 people signed up for coverage the first week of open enrollment, the government said Thursday.
10:10PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Senate GOP tax bill would delay biz cut, undo deductions
The Senate unveils its version of the Republicans' high-stakes tax overhaul with billions in tax cuts for people and corporations and repeal of the federal deduction for state and local taxes.
10:07PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Asian shares follow Wall Street lower on US tax cut delay
Asian shares sank Friday, following declines on Wall Street after a proposed delay to U.S. tax cut plan dented investor sentiment
10:07PM ( 21 minutes ago )
China, US sign more business deals during Trump visit
China and the United States have signed multibillion-dollar business deals during President Donald Trump's visit in a tradition aimed at blunting criticism of Beijing's trade policies
10:03PM ( 25 minutes ago )