U.S. Senate Hearing Examines the Proposed Deal between AT&T and Time Warner


CEOs of both AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T) and Time Warner, Inc. (NYSE:TWX) showed up on Capitol Hill to convince the Senate that the proposed merger between the two firms would benefit customers ultimately on Wednesday.

In the senate hearing, Republicans and Democrats concerned whether the deal, which is the $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner, will motivate AT&T to increase the the content of Time Warner or limit the access to make DirecTV more attractive, thus harming rival distributors of content that compete with DirecTV business and entertainment producers that compete with Time Warner.

Randall Stephenson, the Chef Executive of AT&T, said at the hearing that the planned deal will increase innovation and bring “better-priced options” to customers.

AT&T is currently the second largest wireless carrier in the United States and the owner of DirecTV, which makes it a major player in the pay-TV space. Time Warner now owns Warner Bros, CNN and HBO.

“We need more companies with the ability to compete with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook,” said Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, which is a proponent of the merger. He also said that neither AT&T or Time Warner are in dominant position if they don’t merge.

“It is in that environment we urge you look at this carefully and enforcers not to take risk with a transaction that could be harmful to that democractic process and consumer’s pocketbooks,” said Gene Kimmelman, the CEO of Public Knowledge, which was against the proposed deal.

Donald Trump also said that he would block the deal, saying the combination of two firms make power concentrated among few companies. The deal may be reviewed by Federal Communications Commission, and will also be reviewed by Justice Department.

CEOs of both companies talked about the influence of the proposed deal. Randall Stephenson said that the merger will hasten its development of faster 5G wireless service and would be a challenge to cable firms. Jeffrey Bewkes, the CEO of Time Warner, said that the acquisition will accelerate the new channel packages delivered over the internet.

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