Published: Sun, November 12, 2017
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

I Didn't 'Make Decision' to Recommend AT&T Sell CNN

I Didn't 'Make Decision' to Recommend AT&T Sell CNN

Stephenson said several times on Thursday that a combined AT&T and Time Warner will create a data and advertising company whose competitors will be the newest and most disruptive entrants into the media sector, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google, not other wireless phone companies. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the department rejected that offer as insufficient to resolve its concerns, which it did not specify.

"I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can - especially since so many are fake", he told reporters on Air Force One.

Representatives of Twenty-First Century Fox, AT&T and Time Warner, CNN's parent, declined comment.

He was responding to tense negotiations over AT&T's proposed merger with Time Warner.

Sources say the Department of Justice (DoJ) may make the deal conditional on the disposal of either Turner Broadcasting - which includes CNN, Cartoon Network and sports channels - or satellite broadcaster DirecTV.

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Rupert Murdoch is said to be interested in buying CNN. Time Warner shares fell just under 1% to close at $87.05.

AT&T had previously targeted the end of the year for closing the deal, and Wall Street analysts had widely expected the deal to go through. The agency has a decades-long history of approving similar deals, including the merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal in 2011.

The deal is opposed by an array of rivals and consumer groups anxious that it would give the combined company too much power.

Forcing a sale of CNN could harm the news network, if a buyer doesn't have the same deep pockets as AT&T and Time Warner to support newsgathering.

In court, AT&T would have the upper hand, said Geoffrey Manne, executive director of Portland-based think tank International Center for Law and Economics. "Beyond that, the Department does not comment on any pending investigation".

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