Senator Demands Hearing on AT&T Merger

     WASHINGTON (CN) — Voicing concerns about the proposed $85.4 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner, a senator urged the Judiciary Committee on Monday to consider a public hearing before the lucrative communications merger goes forward.
     “Millions of Americans rely on AT&T for their satellite or cable television, as well as their wireless telephone service and broadband internet access. And millions…use Time Warner’s entertainment and news content,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in a statement. “This proposed massive consolidation of distribution and content raises potentially serious questions about competition, consumer choice and privacy across the media, cable TV, wireless and broadband industries.”
     The merger may face a few obstacles on its way to being finalized, but neither the Department of Justice nor the Federal Communications Commission has made comment on the deal yet.
     AT&T agreed to pay a little over $100 per share which will be split between cash and stock options. The deal, if successful, would be closed sometime before the end of next year.
     AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson would lead the newly minted company while Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes would remain only temporarily and in an advisory position.
     Time Warner currently owns CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. Since AT&T currently owns DirectTV, questions surrounding the potential disadvantages for competitors loom on the horizon.
     Members of the senate’s antitrust subcommittee Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also came forward cautiously when they issued a joint statement saying that the acquisition “would potentially raise significant antitrust issues” which their committee would “carefully examine.”
     Chatter around the deal also made its way to the campaign trail over the weekend, with comments made by both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s respective presidential campaigns.
     Using the opportunity to take a stab at Clinton, Trump campaign economic advisor Peter Navarro released a statement Monday writing that “AT&T, the original and abusive ‘Ma Bell’ telephone monopoly is now trying to buy Time Warner and thus, the wildly anti-Trump CNN,” Navarro wrote.
     GOP nominee Donald Trump told rally-goers in Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon that the merger was a “deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”
     Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine took a less aggressive approach to the news, telling reporters on NBC’s Meet the Press that “pro-competition and less concentration, I think, is generally helpful, especially in the media,” he said.
     This is the second massive merger and acquisition deal corporate giants have attempted in the last month. The judiciary committee only recently reviewed merger proposals by agrochemical giants Monsanto and Bayer and Syngenta and ChemChina in September.

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