AT&T Entertainment Chief Touts Content

Stankey says telco needs to own the pipes and the water flowing through them

With its pending deal to acquire Time Warner Inc. winding through the regulatory approval process – which apparently won’t require a Federal Communications Commission nod – AT&T Entertainment chief John Stankey told an industry audience Monday that content will drive the telco’s future.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stankey said AT&T’s future depends on not only owning distribution pipes, but some of the water flowing through them too.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Stankey said AT&T must listen to its customers – who are consuming video at a growing pace – or face irrelevance.

“Our previous course and direction failed to value customers when they really craved appreciation,” Stankey said, according to THR. “We offered them prepackaged solutions when they craved customization. We perfected the model of offering customers more for more [when in reality] they want more for less."

The Mobile World Congress is one of the largest telecom and entertainment conferences in the world, and more than 100,000 attendees were expected at the three-day confab. Aside from Stankey, Time Warner’s Turner Networks chairman and CEO John Martin was also scheduled to speak.

AT&T agreed to purchase Time Warner in October in a deal valued at about $108.7 billion, including debt. The deal is expected to clear the necessary regulatory hurdles in the coming months. Time Warner has also agreed to sell its lone broadcast television station – WTCH in Atlanta – that would appear to remove the FCC from the approval process. Time Warner also has some FCC licenses for links between CNN field trucks and studios, but AT&T has signaled that won’t be part of the Time Warner deal.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai told the Wall Street Journal Monday that he did not expect his agency to play a role in the review of the AT&T-Time Warner merger.