WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the AT&T-Time Warner Inc., merger would be a "gross concentration of power" and called for the Department of Justice to block the deal.
Sanders, the runner-up for the Democratic nomination in this year’s presidential race, has been one of the most outspoken critics of media consolidation, so his view on the proceedings is hardly a surprise.
“This proposed merger is just the latest effort to shrink our media landscape, stifle competition and diversity of content, and provide consumers with less while charging them more,” Sanders wrote in a letter to Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Departments antitrust division. “This merger represents a gross concentration of power that runs counter to the public good and should be blocked.”
He made no mention of the Federal Communications Commission, which may or may not review the deal depending on which licenses Time Warner hold. It would almost certainly provide its expert opinion to the DOJ in any event.
Sanders also did not like the prospect of Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes profiting off the deal. “[T]his proposed deal is likely to allow the CEO of Time Warner to earn hundreds of millions of dollars on the stock and options he has accrued,” he said, while the combined company would be “saddled” with $175 billion of debt."
Sanders also warned that the deal would lead to a wave of other media mergers.
The deal has made strange bedfellows of Sanders and another presidential hopeful, Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has also said he would block the merger if he could.