AT&T and Time Warner have been working hard to get a merger through regulatory approval. The process hasn’t been the easiest because apparently, Department of Justice is asking AT&T to sell CNN or go about selling DirecTV.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is now saying that no one from Department of Justice has asked him to sell CNN as a condition for the merger to be pushed through, Recode reports. “I haven’t been told that the price of getting the deal done is selling CNN. Period,” Stephenson says at New York Times DealBook conference.
Stephenson also makes note that he has no intention of selling Time Warner’s new network. He mentions that if anyone suggested selling off DirecTV, he wouldn’t comment on any details of his negotiations with DoJ. Apparently the discussions are “advanced” and being pushed along.
“These conversations [between his company and DoJ officials] are professional. What happened yesterday was unfortunate,” Stephenson states.
We reported yesterday that Department of Justice had given AT&T two options to try and get the merger through: sell Turner or sell DirecTV. Since AT&T is already neck deep in offering DirecTV services to its wireless subscribers, it isn’t likely that the company would just sell off that division, at least not immediately. The company is providing DirecTV assets as an attracting point for its wireless business. Stephenson says that he has absolute no intention of selling Time Warner’s significant assets, such as HBO.
“You shouldn’t expect that we would sell something larger [than CNN] to get the deal done. It’s illogical. It’s why we did the deal.” CNN correspondent Brian Stelter asked if he (Stephenson) believed that President Donald Trump’s expressed hatred for CNN had anything to do with this, Stephenson said that he didn’t think that was the case.
“I have no reason to believe that,” he added. He expressed that the merger had not been discussed with anyone outside of the DoJ. “I’m doubtful.”