DOJ told AT&T it has to sell CNN for Time Warner merger

AT&T CFO: Time Warner Closing Deal 'Now Uncertain' as Justice Department Weighs Merger

In October 2016, AT&T and Time Warner said they had reached a merger deal, marking an especially massive consolidation in a media industry now used to them.

"So much Fake News being put in dying magazines and newspapers".

The Justice Department has informed AT&T that it must sell CNN in order to gain approval for its merger with Time Warner, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

The alternative would be for AT&T to dump DirecTV, its broadcast subsidiary, and keep the Time Warner family of channels.

In July, the New York Times reported that White House advisers had discussed using the deal as "a potential point of leverage over their adversary" CNN.

The deal's holdup has raised suspicions of political retaliation - even from people who oppose the deal entirely.

While the president has no direct power to intervene, many believed his insistent criticism of CNN would ultimately endanger the AT&T-Time Warner sale. During the presidential campaign, he argued that "deals like this destroy democracy" and cited it as "an example of the power structure" that he was fighting. "I don't know the details here but this is worth investigating". Mr. Trump's Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president's animus toward CNN remains a wild card.

Following the latest news, shares of Time Warner were down 6 percent at $89.00, while AT&T shares were down 0.2 percent at $33.15.

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AT&T's response to all of those demands would likely be to file a lawsuit against the government, many reports have indicated.

Still, the deal needs the Justice Department's approval. AT&T had previously said the acquisition would close by the end of this year. Obama-era regulators in 2011 approved a similar media merger, cable company Comcast's purchase of NBCUniversal, after Comcast agreed to a slew of business requirements.

The new concessions suggest the head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, has changed his view of AT&T's plan to buy Time Warner, since giving an interview in 2016 where he declared it not 'a major antitrust problem'.

CNN has been the focus of the president's ire, with him repeatedly attacking the "fake news" network in person and on Twitter. News of the impasse has ignited speculation that Trump is punishing Time Warner for criticism of his administration.

The combined company would offer wireless and broadband Internet service, satellite TV, the Warner Brothers movie studio and cable channels, including HBO. Several Democratic lawmakers have also pushed back against the combination.

The proposed deal considered a "vertical" merger, which means the two companies in the deal are non-competitors.

In an emailed statement, the Justice Department said that it "is committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts. Beyond that, the Department does not comment on any pending investigation", a DOJ spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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