Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
The Vermont senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate on Sunday called on the Obama administration to stop AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner.The mega-acquisition, announced Sunday morning, would radically transform the digital market landscape. If the deal goes through, AT&T—already America's largest pay-TV provider, second largest wireless service provider, and third largest internet provider—would own one of the largest producers of television, film and video games, including subsidiaries HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros.
The AT&T–Time Warner merger, in other words, would put a single company in control of much of the content we consume and the ways that content is delivered—a recipe that critics believe will ultimately hurt consumers and threaten net neutrality by limiting what customers can access over its networks. As such, the deal stands to face intense scrutiny from federal regulators.
“I'm skeptical of huge media mergers because they can lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers,” wrote Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in a Facebook post on Saturday, after news of the merger first broke.
The campaigns of both Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have also spoken out on the deal. Trump said it would “destroy democracy,” while Clinton running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he was “pro-competition.”
The Department of Justice's antitrust division will review the buyout, and the Federal Communications Commission may also have its say, depending on which assets AT&T acquires.
The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017—if AT&T's lobbyists can survive the fight ahead.