FCC Will Not Review AT&T’s Acquisition of Time Warner
The Boss at the US Federal Communications Commission does not expect to review AT&T Inc.’s (NYSE:T) planned $85.4-B acquisition of Time Warner Inc.(NYSE:TWX), a spokesman for the agency said Monday.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the WS-J in an interview Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that he did not foresee a role for the FCC on the takeover.
Last Thursday, Time Warner said it plans to sell a broadcast station in Atlanta to Meredith Corp for $70-M, which could help speed the company’s planned merger with AT&T.
Mr. Pai declined to say if he would use that transfer to try to review the broader merger.
In January, AT&T said it expected to be able to bypass the FCC because it would not seek to transfer any Time Warner licenses.
About 12 US Senators have urged an FCC review the transaction.
The station that Time Warner is selling, WPCH-TV in Atlanta, is its only FCC-regulated broadcast station. It has other, more minor FCC licenses. Meredith has operated WPCH-TV for Time Warner since 2011. It was previously know as WTBS.
Time Warner said last month it expected it would only need the consent of the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ, which is reviewing documents submitted on the proposed merger, has to prove a proposed deal harms competition in order to block it. The FCC has broad leeway to block a merger it deems is not in the “public interest” and can impose additional conditions.
AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said the DOJ review was ongoing and he thought the deal would close by the end of the year. “It’s a clean transaction,” he said.
People briefed on the matter do not expect the DOJ to act on the merger until an assistant attorney general overseeing the anti-trust division is named and confirmed by the US Senate.
AT&T, which repeatedly clashed with the FCC under President Barack Hussein-Obama over major industry regulations, said last year one benefit to its buying Time Warner is that the programming company is “lightly regulated compared to much of AT&T’s existing operations.”
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