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

12 November 2017

The DOJ's review process is supposed to be independent, though its about-face on the merger has struck even many Democrats who oppose a combined AT&T and Time Warner as suspicious.

If AT&T and DOJ cannot agree to conditions, the government can sue to block the deal. Justice suggested that AT&T sell either DirecTV or Turner, the arm of Time Warner that holds CNN, TBS and TNT.

As U.S. wireless growth slows down, AT&T has been looking for ways to marry its nationwide wireless business with video, which Americans increasingly watch on the internet. AT&T's chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement Wednesday that he wanted to "set the record straight".

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The president's vocal opposition to CNN and the deal will come up in any lawsuit, said Matthew Cantor, an antitrust attorney.

Kushner reportedly filed complaints to CNN executives on a regular basis during the campaign, and was particularly displeased with its fact-checking, which, according to The Journal, prompted Kushner to call CNN president Jeff Zucker to say that members of the Trump campaign would not appear on the network. Over the summer The New York Times reported that Trump aides discussed using the pending deal as a powerful form of leverage over CNN's coverage.

The newspaper's source in the White House said that this was meant merely as a joke and Kushner did not mean to be taken seriously. But many, including AT&T executives, expected the acquisition to be finalized by the end of the year, and the DOJ's pushback has all but ensured that won't be the case. AT&T announced plans past year to purchase Time Warner to create a juggernaut with more than 142 million mobile subscribers and a major player in pay TV broadcasting via DirecTV.

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"I have never been told that the price of getting the deal done was selling CNN, period".

AT&T has argued against selling off either company's assets, as it believes this would undercut the rationale for the tie-up.

But sources said talks between the government and AT&T are ongoing in the hopes that an agreement can be reached. "And likewise I have never offered to sell CNN", he said, adding that there was "absolutely no intention" that the company would sell the network. The government has the burden to show that the deal would reduce competition.

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