Trump administration uses CNN as bargaining chip in Time Warner-AT&T deal

Trump administration uses CNN as bargaining chip in Time Warner-AT&T deal

An independent CNN would be financially weak and in play for takeover by the likes of the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group or even Fox News, especially if Rupert Murdoch decides to say good-bye to Hollywood to concentrate on the news business.

The reported demands by Trump's DOJ come on the heels of repeated instances of the president calling CNN "fake news".

The source said the companies were told that Time Warner would need to sell off Turner, the television division that includes CNN.

Selling off the cable news network is one of the demands being made by the USA antitrust authority before it signs off on a deal that could reshape the landscape of both the media and telecom industries.

"Citing 'three people with direct knowledge of the negotiations", the Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Time Warner must sell the cable news channel before the the USA antitrust authority signs off on the deal.

"The Department is committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts". He also said at a rally before the inauguration that the AT&T-Time Warner tie-up would be "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

"Until now, we've never commented on our discussions with the DOJ", Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The jab at AT&T and Time Warner shocked policy experts who said presidents and candidates for office generally avoid commenting on pending deals for fear of influencing - or appearing to influence - the process.

Bremer Trust National Association raised its stake in shares of Time Warner Inc. A Justice Department representative declined to comment. But after the Wall Street Journal reported last week that the DOJ was weighing a suit against the merger, Kellyanne Conway told CNN's Brian Stelter that "we're not going to interfere with that here".

As the president has escalated his vocal war with CNN, reporters and executives at the news organization have wondered openly whether Trump will seek to use the deal as leverage over the network. 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. It would then supply its video - HBO, CNN, TBS and a major American movie studio - while providing access to the internet for millions of Americans. The company is instructing its legal team to prepare for a possible court battle on growing concerns that antitrust division chief Makan Delrahim wants AT&T to divest assets, said the people. MA now owns 46,929 shares of the media conglomerate's stock valued at $4,585,000 after buying an additional 1,316 shares during the last quarter. Without an agreement, the Justice Department would sue to block the merger - as soon as next week, one of the people said.

President Donald Trump has opposed the acquisition since it was first announced in 2016 and promised during his presidential campaign to block it.