The U.S. Justice Department is taking AT&T to court. According to a new report out of Washington, The DoJ plans to sue AT&T to block its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. AT&T balked at requests to divest itself in DirecTV or agree to sell off Time Warner Broadcasting in order to win approval from regulators.
The Justice Department’s belief is that AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner would give it too much leverage in the marketplace. AT&T is already the second largest wireless carrier in the country and owns the largest pay-TV operator (DirecTV). Ownership of its current assets plus networks like CNN, TNT, TBS, and HBO would give AT&T an unfair advantage in negotiations with other telecom companies and TV networks.
To avoid such a conflict, the DoJ had reportedly asked the carrier to sell off Time Warner Broadcasting as part of the deal. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson balked at the idea and said the company would head to court to defend it. When asked about reports that the communications giant had offered to sell CNN to smooth over a deal, Stephenson flatly denied the reports.
There is absolutely no intention that we would ever sell CNN.
The deal had long been under scrutiny. As soon as it was announced last year, consumer groups and Presidential candidates alike roundly criticized the deal. President Trump has been a vocal critic of CNN since his run for the White House began and promised on the campaign trail that if elected that his Justice Department would block the deal. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sidestepped questions during a hearing last week when asked if the White House had pressured the DoJ about the potential acquisition.
This story is developing. We’ll bring you updates as they become available.