Date
4 December 2016
Time Warner's proposed takeover by AT&T would create a new telecommunications and media giant. Photo: Reuters
Time Warner's proposed takeover by AT&T would create a new telecommunications and media giant. Photo: Reuters

AT&T-Time Warner deal sparks calls for scrutiny

A proposed US$85 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc. by AT&T Inc. is raising concern on the campaign trail, making it likely that regulators will closely scrutinize the effort to create a new telecommunications and media giant.

The biggest deal of the year, announced just over two weeks before the Nov. 8 US election, is a gamble on a victory for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and a continuation of the status quo on anti-trust and regulatory enforcement, Reuters reports.

The Republican candidate Donald Trump, who is trailing Clinton in the polls, has said he would block the takeover.

The billionaire businessman has railed against the media’s role in what he has described as a “rigged” election and he thinks the acquisition of Time Warner, which owns CNN and Warner Bros, Hollywood’s largest film and television studio, would concentrate too much power in one organization.

“AT&T, the original and abusive ‘Ma Bell’ telephone monopoly, is now trying to buy Time Warner and thus the wildly anti-Trump CNN. Donald Trump would never approve such a deal because it concentrates too much power in the hands of the too and powerful few,” Trump economic advisor Peter Navarro said in a statement on Sunday.

Clinton, who has expressed misgivings about other corporate mega mergers, has not yet commented on the takeover.

A spokesman Brian Fallon told reporters on Sunday there were “a number of questions and concerns” about the deal “but there’s still a lot of information that needs to come out before any conclusions should be reached.”

The Senate subcommittee on antitrust will hold a hearing on the acquisition sometime in November, said subcommittee chair Senator Mike Lee, a Republican, and the ranking Democrat, Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate and a senator from Virginia, said lawmakers and regulators would have to review the deal and “get to the bottom” of questions over whether the merger would decrease competition.

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