I Didn't 'Make Decision' to Recommend AT&T Sell CNN

Danny Woods
November 12, 2017

The AT&T-Time Warner deal is a "vertical merger", which consolidates two companies, but does not eliminate a competitor.

Turner Broadcasting, which includes TNT, TBS and CNN, is one of the most profitable divisions of Time Warner. And likewise I have never offered to sell CNN. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the department rejected that offer as insufficient to resolve its concerns, which it did not specify. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson issued a statement that he "never offered to sell CNN" and has "no intention of doing so". Then he added: "I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can - especially since so many are fake".

Instead, the Trump administration DOJ plans to use the merger as a weapon against one the president's least favorite news organizations - Time Warner's CNN. The Justice Department has asked that assets like cable news network CNN and satellite provider DirecTV be sold, according to people familiar with the matter. "You can dislike consolidation but still find this extremely disturbing if true". AT&T shares rose 1.6 percent to $33.97. Those remarks put AT&T and DOJ on a collision course, policy analysts said, which may lead to DOJ suing to block the deal. But many, including AT&T executives, expected the acquisition to be finalized by the end of the year, and the DOJ's pushback has all but ensured that won't be the case. 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.

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AT&T has argued against selling off either company's assets, as it believes this would undercut the rationale for the tie-up. Requiring AT&T to sell either Turner or DirecTV would be in line with Delrahim's thinking.

He was responding to tense negotiations over AT&T's proposed merger with Time Warner.

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