WGXC-90.7 FM

Radio News: Is the White House interfering with Time Warner/AT&T merger?

Nov 08, 2017 11:00 pm
Steven Overly reports in Politico that the Justice Department may be pressuring AT&T and Time Warner to sell off CNN to get the Trump administration's approval of their $85 billion merger. According to the report, on Nov. 6 Justice Department officials, "presented the companies with an ultimatum" to sell off Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, TBS, and TNT, or jettison DirecTV. One source said "the real sticking point" was selling off the news network that President Donald Trump often criticizes. "The only reason you would divest CNN would be to kowtow to the president because he doesn't like the coverage," the source said. "It would send a chilling message to every news organization in the country." Justice Department officials later it was Time-Warner's idea to sell CNN. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson denied that was true. "Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so," he said in a statement. AT&T and Time Warner lawyers say the Justice Department should not require them to sell off anything to approve the merger, and both sides are gearing up for a lawsuit. President Trump's call of “fake news” is most often linked to CNN. In July The New York Times reported that White House advisers discussed using the merger as “a potential point of leverage over their adversary” CNN. The companies had set an Oct. 22 deadline for the merger, which was announced last year. AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said at a conference Nov. 8 that when the timing of the merger is "now uncertain."