AT&T merger talks urged before Nov. 23
The U.S. Justice Department is encouraging AT&T Inc. to address antitrust officials’ concerns about the $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. before the Nov. 23 Thanksgiving holiday or face a lawsuit to block the deal, people familiar with the matter said.
The Justice Department wants to keep AT&T, the biggest U.S. satellite-TV provider, from gaining Time Warner cable networks like TNT and CNN and then withholding their programming from competitors such as Comcast Corp., the people said. AT&T has said it has no incentive to do that. But the Justice Department prefers that AT&T either sell Time Warner’s Turner division, which owns TNT and CNN, or divest its DirecTV satellite unit to address the issue.
Representatives for AT&T, Time Warner and the Justice Department declined to comment.
The proposed tie-up would reshape the media landscape by uniting the biggest pay-TV distributor with the owner of CNN, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS and HBO. It represents the Justice Department’s first major antitrust test under President Donald Trump, who as a candidate criticized the combination for consolidating too much power in one company and has repeatedly called CNN’s coverage of his administration “fake news.” — Bloomberg News