FCC helps AT&T and Time Warner avoid lengthy public interest merger review

“The Federal Communications Commission has helped clear the path for AT&T to buy Time Warner Inc. without a lengthy public-interest review,” Jon Brodkin reports for Ars Technica. “The FCC conducts public-interest reviews of mergers when FCC licenses are transferred, but AT&T and Time Warner have been trying to structure their $85.4 billion deal to avoid direct transfer of any licenses. That means Time Warner has to get rid of its FCC licenses, including one for a TV station in Atlanta, before it’s swallowed up by AT&T.”

“The FCC helped Time Warner achieve that this week by approving a sale of its WPCH-TV license in Atlanta for $70 million to Meredith Corp., which was already operating the station for Time Warner under a separate agreement,” Brodkin reports. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said the commission does not have ‘the legal authority to review the [AT&T/Time Warner] transaction’ because AT&T isn’t taking over any Time Warner licenses, despite pushback from Senate Democrats and the FCC’s lone Democrat, Mignon Clyburn.”

“Time Warner is the owner of programmers such as HBO, CNN, and Turner Broadcasting System,” Brodkin reports. “The Time Warner that AT&T is buying is completely separate from Time Warner Cable, the ISP that was purchased by Charter last year… Since there won’t be a full FCC review, Senate Democrats led by Al Franken (D-Minn.) recently asked AT&T to prove that the acquisition will benefit Americans. AT&T responded that the merger will provide consumers with ‘more relevant advertising in ad-supported video services,’ more attractive bundles of broadband and video, and other benefits.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: More proof, as if you needed it, that the FCC is under new management.

If this somehow leads to “more attractive bundles of broadband and video” — as in lower prices — we’ll be aneurysmally surprised.

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… Additionally, Comcast’s [2009] purchase of NBC concentrates far too much power in one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do. Deals like this destroy democracy.Donald Trump, October 22, 2016

Lawmakers voice concerns over AT&T’s $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner – December 7, 2016
Apple currently not interested in buying Time Warner, source say – November 2, 2016
Goldman Sachs tries to persuade Apple to bid for Time Warner as TV ‘strategy’ treads water – October 31, 2016


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