AT&T merger talks urged be­fore Nov. 23

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM -

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

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