Senators Pressure AT&T & Time Warner to Prove Mega-Merger is in Public Interest

Senators Urge That Further Media Consolidation Should Only be Permitted if it Results in Better, More Affordable Phone, TV & Internet Service for Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. [01/25/17]—Today, a group of Senate Democrats led by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) put pressure on AT&T and Time Warner to prove that their proposed mega-merger is in the American public’s interest. 

Troublingly, because of how the two companies have signaled they are structuring the deal, they are no longer legally required to prove that their consolidation would serve the public interest—which Sen. Franken and 12 of his colleagues believe is necessary.

 

So in a letter today to both AT&T and Time Warner’s CEOs, Sen. Franken and 12 of his colleagues said that American consumers deserve to know if this deal will be good for them. 

 

“To achieve greater transparency for regulators, lawmakers, and American consumers, we ask that you provide us with a public interest statement detailing how you plan to ensure that the transaction benefits consumers, promotes competition, remedies all potential harms, and further serves the public interest through the broader policy goals of the Communications Act,” the Senators wrote. “We maintain that further consolidation in the telecommunications and media industries should only be permitted if it results in better and more affordable services for consumers across the nation, and we look forward to working with you to achieve this critical goal.”

 

The letter, which you can read a copy of by clicking here, was led by Sen. Franken and signed by Sens. Markey, Brown, Sanders, Wyden, Leahy, Warren, Booker, Murray, Durbin, Cantwell, Merkley, and Blumenthal.

 

AT&T is the second largest mobile broadband provider and one of the nation’s leading content distributors, with more than 25 million pay-TV subscribers. Time Warner is one of the world’s largest TV and entertainment companies, owning networks such as HBO and CNN. By combining, these two companies would create a media conglomerate with the incentive and ability to harm competitors, and as a result, consumers.   

 

Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, has long fought against consolidation in the media market, which he says concentrates too much power in the hands of too few people. One of his priorities as a champion for consumers is to help the tens of millions of people in both Minnesota and across the country who are being squeezed by cable and internet costs. He successfully led the effort to block a deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable and was a vocal opponent of the prior Comcast–NBCUniversal deal.