- Title: Senate antitrust subcommittee probes AT&T-Time Warner merger
- Date: 7th December 2016
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 7, 2016) (UNRESTRICTED POOL) VARIOUS OF AUDIENCE BEFORE HEARING (SOUNDBITE) (English) AT&T CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RANDALL L. STEPHENSON, SAYING: "They will get more choices and lower-priced options, and that means more nationwide competition against the cable companies in each of your respective states. What this merger is not about is consolidation, either in media or in telecom." WIDE SHOT OF SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE (SOUNDBITE) (English) TIME WARNER INC. CHAIRMAN AND CEO, JEFF BEWKES, SAYING: "In short, combining Time Warner's video content with AT&T's distribution will accelerate the development and delivery of the next generation of video services, providing consumers with greater choice, convenience, value, and, importantly, better affordability." WIDE OF PANEL TESTIFYING (SOUNDBITE) (English) AT&T CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RANDALL L. STEPHENSON, SAYING: "By virtue of innovation with Time Warner, and going head to head against the cable providers, with new products, and new capabilities that we will bring the consumer better priced options than what they have today." WIDE OF PANEL TESTIFYING (SOUNDBITE) (English) AT&T CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RANDALL L. STEPHENSON, SAYING: "I believe this particular merger, when you put it together, you see that, before the merger and after the merger, the competitive market looks identical, the distribution market looks identical, the content creation market looks identical. There are no overlaps, and so it is a classic vertical merger, but the Department of Justice will look at this, and, to the extent there are concerns, we do believe they can be remedied with conditions." WIDE OF SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE (SOUNDBITE) (English) AT&T CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RANDALL L. STEPHENSON, SAYING: "We're paying, including the debt, over $100 billion for Time Warner. Investing a lot of our shareholder money to acquire this content. It's very, very unique content. And you heard Mr. Bewkes earlier explain the business model, and how he built a business that is worth $100 billion, which is quite a feat in and of itself. The business models fundamental premise for attracting talent, for attracting investors into content, the fundamental premise of that is wide and broad distribution of their content into every home particularly in the United States of America. While one could argue, and I'm sure the Justice Department will look at this closely, while one could argue that it might advantage our distribution business to somehow give proprietary access to Time Warner, it would make no sense to a $100 billion business we're acquiring to do that. It would impair the value of that business dramatically." WIDE OF PANEL TESTIFYING
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2016 17:59
- Keywords: AT&T Time Warner Randall Stephenson Jeff Bewkes Senate hearing $85-billion merger Senate antitrust subcommittee Senate Committee on the Judiciary
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- City: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA0015BVYHL9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday (December 7) that his company's planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. would increase innovation, "reshape the competitive landscape," and benefit consumers.
"They will get more choices and lower priced options, and that means more nationwide competition against the cable companies in each of your respective states," Stephenson said at a Senate hearing.
"What this merger is not about is consolidation, either in media or in telecom," he added.
The Justice Department will determine whether the deal is legal under antitrust law. If the agency decides to stop a deal, it must convince a judge to agree.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, expressed concern that the deal would create incentives for AT&T to refuse to license Time Warner content to competitors. She also said AT&T could favor its own movies and television shows over independent content. Time Warner owns HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network, and the Warner Bros film studio.
"You see that, before the merger and after the merger, the competitive market looks identical, that the distribution market looks identical, the content creation market looks identical," Stephenson said.
Stephenson said at a New York conference on Tuesday that the Justice Department had begun reviewing the deal, which was announced in October. The Federal Communications Commission would also review the deal if AT&T decides to assume any of Time Warner's licenses, he added.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, whose administration will decide whether to approve the merger, had said during the campaign that it should be blocked. Stephenson told Reuters before the hearing that he had no contact with Trump.
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