Markets

AT&T ready to fight USA on Time Warner deal: CEO

AT&T ready to fight USA on Time Warner deal: CEO

There are many fine reasons for the Department of Justice to act against the impending $85 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

However, according to the USA news site Wired, it's not clear whether the DoJ could successfully block the merger.

The news comes amid AT&T's possible $84.5 billion merger with Time Warner, which owns Turner Broadcasting's CNN.

But AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the Justice Department never asked his company to divest from CNN in order to acquire Time Warner. His FCC appointees, for example, have changed a rule that will allow deeply conservative Sinclair Broadcasting - the new owner of WNEP-TV - to reach up to 72 percent of USA households.

"Are we really going to make the (Justice Department) use antitrust law to force the sale of a cable channel because the President doesn't like its news coverage?" tweeted Jessica Rosenworcel, member of the Federal Communications Commission.

The president's vocal opposition to CNN and the deal will come up in any lawsuit, said Matthew Cantor, an antitrust attorney. "I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can-especially since so many are fake".

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 wireless giant had previously said that it expected the acquisition to take effect by the end of this year. "I'm not sure how selling CNN addresses any antitrust concerns so I would expect AT&T to challenge that requirement", Allyn Arden, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings told Wired. Several Democratic lawmakers have also pushed back against the combination. As a candidate, Trump vowed to block the deal because it concentrated too much "power in the hands of too few".

AT&T has argued against selling off either company's assets, as it believes this would undercut the rationale for the tie-up. The Department of Justice said it does not comment on pending investigations, but that it was "committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts". "And likewise I have never offered to sell CNN", he said, adding that there was "absolutely no intention" that the company would sell the network.