Policy

Trump Would Block AT&T-TW Merger

Disses deal on campaign stop; also says he would break up Comcast-NBCU 10/22/2016 5:36 PM Eastern

D.C. was weighing in on the proposed AT&T/Time Warner deal Saturday, including would-be D.C. resident, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

AT&T said Saturday night that it had reached an agreement with Time Warner to acquire the media company for $107.50 in cash and stock. The deal moved quickly from rumor to reality in the last couple of days.

Campaigning in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump said his Administration would try to block the deal. He did not sound much like a deregulatory Republicans, but he did sound like someone mad at the media.

"As an example of the power structure I'm fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few," he said. The line drew applause.

Trump has said the media is part of a conspiracy to elect his rival.

Trump also said Comcast's purchase of NBCU concentrated "far too much power" in the hands of one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do." He said deals like that "destroy democracy" and his administration would look to break that deal up and others like it.

He said the deal should never have been approved in the first place and said they were trying to "poison the minds of the American people."

Elsewhere in Washington, the news drew concerned looks from the American Cable Association.

"As the FCC has found in past mergers, combining valuable content with pay-TV distribution causes harm to consumers and competition in the pay-TV market," said ACA President Matt Polka. "If an AT&T/Time Warner deal is forged as reported, the vertical integration of the merged company must be an issue that regulators closely examine."

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, used the news to put in a plug for the FCC's broadband privacy item.

"This proposed deal raises major challenges for consumers, subscribers and competitors," he said. "It reflects the 'Big Data' and digitally data-driven imperatives that are reshaping the U.S. media system. Giant broadband ISP networks, such as AT&Ts, and content providers as Time Warner, want to join together to both deliver programming and continually gather a host of information about each and every consumer."

"It’s no surprise that AT&T is bitterly opposed to the privacy safeguards up for a vote this coming Thursday at the FCC," Chester said. "They don’t want any potential new rules that empower consumers to control what they hope will be a massive influx of data they plan to monetize."

 

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