AT&T CEO: DOJ never demanded CNN sale in Time Warner deal

AT&T CEO: DOJ never demanded CNN sale in Time Warner deal

CNN has become the focal point in antitrust approval of AT&T's $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner, hatched in October 2016. Negotiations between the companies and the Department of Justice have turned so contentious that now both sides are arguing publicly over what the dispute is even about.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.

AT&T executives have consistently expressed optimism about the deal being approved.

AT&T bought satellite TV company DirecTV in 2015.

Some sources say AT&T floated the possibility of selling CNN or other assets. AT&T can deliver this video over the internet, including its cellular network.

He also seemed to challenge one of AT&T's arguments in favor of the transaction: that it now faces a competition landscape made up of large Silicon Valley companies. But he did acknowledge getting calls from other people about the possibility of a sale. AT&T, for example, already lets its wireless customers watch DirecTV Now without using up their phone data, making rival video potentially more expensive for those on limited data plans.

Another source, however, told Reuters that Murdoch has "zero interest" in acquiring CNN. AT&T wasn't interested in doing so.

The fate of CNN has broader political significance.

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Trump did again raise the issue of news media consolidation. "I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can-especially since so many are fake".

In an email provided by a DOJ spokeswoman, White House spokesman Raj Shah said that Trump "did not speak with the attorney general about this matter", and that "no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter".

The "person" in Trump's remarks is likely Makan Delrahim, DOJ's recently confirmed antitrust chief. The deal, he said, would put "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few". "For me it would be virtually impossible to not take that into account".

"We're prepared to litigate now", Stephenson said at a conference this week hosted by the New York Times. Stephenson was responding on a question on whether he would consider selling Turner or HBO. AT&T stock closed up 1.1 percent at $33.44.

The government has filed or threatened lawsuits to block several high-profile deals in the past, in industries as varied as telecom and health care.

Analysts believe AT&T would have a strong case in court.

Stephens reiterated confidence in the deal, saying "these types of mergers bring great benefit to customers and have very routinely been approved by the DOJ and the federal government".

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