AT&T, Time Warner CEOs in­voke big tech threat in merger push

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

LOS ANGELES:

There are five new play­ers in the bat­tle to win fed­eral ap­proval of the $85.4 bil­lion merger of AT&T and Time Warner: Face­book, Google, Ap­ple, Amazon, and Mi­crosoft.

The size, reach, and bal­ance sheets of the tech giants were cited as a pri­mary im­pe­tus for the AT&T-Time Warner nup­tials dur­ing a hear­ing on the merger Wed­nes­day with mem­bers of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. The nearly three­hour ses­sion marked the first real test of how the deal will play in the court of pub­lic opin­ion amid the pop­ulist up­ris­ing spurred by Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory in the presidential race.

AT&T CEO Ran­dall Stephen­son and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes faced ex­pected ques­tions about the deal’s im­pact on prices for con­sumers, the com­pet­i­tive land­scape for Time Warner’s con­tent ri­vals, and whether the en­larged com­pany would be able to squash in­de­pen­dent pro­gram­mers. The scope of the com­bined com­pany is a bi­par­ti­san con­cern, judg­ing by the ques­tion­ing from com­mit­tee mem­bers. That con­cern is es­pe­cially acute as the in­com­ing presidential ad­min­is­tra­tion has vowed to re­scind the FCC’s ex­ist­ing net neu­tral­ity rules de­signed to po­lice high-speed data providers like AT&T from erect­ing toll­booths on the In­ter­net.

Re­lated AT&T, Time Warner Chiefs Face Ques­tions About Merger in Se­nate Hear­ing In that con­text, it’s no surprise that the CEOs would in­voke the threat posed by the tech giants who, in vary­ing de­grees, are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fo­cused on video. Stephen­son po­si­tioned the en­larged com­pany as an­gling to drive ma­jor changes to tele­vi­sion’s sta­tus quo be­fore they’re beaten to the punch by Mark Zucker­berg and Jeff Be­zos. —Reuters

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