AT&T’s Merger Fight Heads Toward Pre-Thanksgiving Showdown

The Justice Department is encouraging AT&T to address antitrust officials’ concerns about the $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner before the Nov. 23 Thanksgiving holiday or face a lawsuit to block the deal. The Justice Department wants to keep AT&T, the biggest US satellite-TV provider, from gaining Time Warner cable networks like TNT and CNN and then withholding their programming from competitors such as Comcast. 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. Antitrust officials advised AT&T to explore alternatives such as selling Turner and then forming a joint venture with the newly separated company. Such a venture could sell advertising on the Turner networks to exploit AT&T’s user data, without the telecommunications giant owning the broadcasting unit, said one of the people. The companies aren’t actively discussing scenarios under which AT&T would sell the Turner or DirecTV satellite television units, which AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson has said he wouldn't do.  


AT&T’s Merger Fight Heads Toward Pre-Thanksgiving Showdown