Rupert Murdoch Called AT&T's CEO Twice About CNN Sale

Government's holdup of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner worries some

Representatives of Twenty-First Century Fox, AT&T and Time Warner, CNN's parent, declined comment. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the department rejected that offer as insufficient to resolve its concerns, which it did not specify. As president, Trump has often blasted CNN for its coverage of him and his administration, disparaging it and its reporters as "fake news".

In 2014, Twenty-First Century Fox proposed buying Time Warner for $80bn.

AT&T agreed to buy Time Warner Inc (N:) in October 2016.

Sources say the Department of Justice (DoJ) may make the deal conditional on the disposal of either Turner Broadcasting - which includes CNN, Cartoon Network and sports channels - or satellite broadcaster DirecTV.


AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has denied that his company would ever sell CNN, while Vanity Fair reported some in media are speculating Murdoch has been quietly urging Trump to tank the merger in revenge for Time Warner declining an $80 billion buyout offer in 2014.

Nevertheless, a group of eight Democratic US senators on Friday wrote to Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, urging the department "to oppose any attempt by the White House to interfere with antitrust law enforcement decisions, particularly for political reasons". As a candidate, Donald Trump vowed to block the deal because it concentrated too much "power in the hands of too few". "We'll see how it all plays out", Trump said aboard Air Force One, according to the White House's official transcript of the exchange. AT&T stock closed up 1.1 percent at $33.44. The companies had been planning to finalize the deal by the end of the year, and just last week AT&T said it was confident it would win approval for the deal since it does not involve direct competitors. The agency has a decades-long history of approving similar deals, including the merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal in 2011.

Being forced to sell off Turner is probably a "nonstarter" for AT&T, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said. "It's time to settle, or it's time to go to court", he said. "Beyond that, the Department does not comment on any pending investigation".

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