A day after AT&T announced its intention to purchase Time Warner in a deal valued at more than $100 billion, politicians on both sides of the aisle expressed skepticism at the deal. The regulatory approval process for the deal will stretch into 2017, meaning it will be handled by the new administration and possibly different members of the Federal Communications Commission.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump blasted the deal and his campaign called AT&T an “abusive… telephone monopoly.” Trump’s economic advisor, Peter Navarro, released a lengthy statement Sunday that attacked the ownership of media outlets in the United States. Time Warner is the parent company of Turner Broadcasting which in turn is the parent company of CNN.
CNN is a frequent target of Trump’s and his rallies often include “CNN sucks” chants. The nominee has accused the news organization of being biased against him. Of the deal specifically, Navarro writes, “Donald Trump would never approve such a deal because it concentrates too much power in the hands of the too and powerful few.”
Navarro’a statement, which also mentions The New York Times and Comcast’s ownership of NBC, is also noteworthy for this broader policy detail, “Donald Trump will break up the new media conglomerate oligopolies that have gained enormous control over our information, intrude into our personal lives, and in this election, are attempting to unduly influence America’s political process.”
Republican presidential nominees have typically stood on the side of corporations when it comes to approving mergers. Trump’s campaign’s statement is noteworthy for not only pledging to block a deal, but also trustbust existing conglomerates.
The Time Warner-AT&T may also be a point of bipartisanship for the two presidential contenders. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told reporters there were a “number of questions and concerns.”
“But there’s still a lot of information that needs to come out before any conclusions should be reached.”
A Clinton spokesperson directed TKNN towards Senator Tim Kaine’s comments on the deal as representative of the campaign. Kaine told NBC’s Meet the Press that “I share those concerns and questions.”
“We’ve got to get to the bottom of them. Less concentration, I think, is generally helpful, especially in the media.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, who railed against corporate media during his presidential campaign, tweeted, “The administration should kill the Time Warner-AT&T merger. This deal would mean higher prices and fewer choices for the American people.”
Senator Al Franken, who has carved a niche for himself on telecommunications policy, came out against the deal. “AT&T’s reported proposal to acquire Time Warner for more than $80 billion raises some immediate flags about consolidation in the media market, which is an area I’ve worked to address for years,” he said. Franken has opposed several media mergers.
“I’m skeptical of huge media mergers because they can lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers. And regulators often agree, like when Comcast unsuccessfully tried to buy Time Warner Cable, a deal that I fiercely opposed.”