Breaking News

Sessions declines to say if White House asked about AT&T-Time Warner merger

Stock MarketsNov 14, 2017 09:53PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An AT&T logo and communication equipment is shown on a building in Los Angeles

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would not say on Tuesday if White House officials contacted his department about its review of AT&T Inc's (N:T) proposed purchase of Time Warner (N:TWX), which one analyst said the Justice Department may sue to block as soon as Wednesday.

"I am not able to comment on conversations or communications the Department of Justice top people have with top people at the White House," Sessions told a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing.

President Donald Trump vowed to block the $85.4 billion merger during his presidential campaign and has repeatedly criticized Time Warner's CNN network, which he has accused of reporting "fake news."

Reuters reported that the Justice Department demanded last week that AT&T divest DirecTV or Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting unit in order to win approval of the deal.

AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson denied last week that he had offered to sell CNN to win approval. "We're prepared to litigate now" over the deal, he said at a forum.

Richard Greenfield, an analyst with brokerage BTIG, said in a note to clients that his firm believed that AT&T and Time Warner had been informed by the Justice Department that a lawsuit was imminent and that it could be filed as early as Wednesday.

Greenfield said multiple sources had told him there was a meeting on Tuesday between the Justice Department and AT&T where the No. 1 U.S. pay-TV provider was told it would be sued to stop the deal.

A Justice Department spokesman declined comment on the timing of any possible action. AT&T and Time Warner declined to comment.

The Justice Department could file a lawsuit as early as this month to challenge the deal, sources told Reuters last week. AT&T is preparing to fight any lawsuit aggressively and would use Trump's attacks on CNN as part of its legal case, the sources said.

The White House said in a statement last week that Trump did not talk to Sessions about the merger and "no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter."

Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway told CNN last week that the White House would not interfere with the merger review.

The deal is opposed by an array of consumer groups and smaller television networks on grounds it would give AT&T too much power over the content it would distribute to its wireless customers.

The DirectTV or Turner Broadcasting concessions demanded by the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim,

suggest he changed his view of the merger since saying in a 2016

interview the deal was not "a major antitrust problem."

Government officials have denied the divestiture requests were because of CNN, saying they were based on concerns AT&T could hike prices on rival content distributors and block innovations.

Sessions declines to say if White House asked about AT&T-Time Warner merger

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Write your thoughts here
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Post also to:
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Post 1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email