Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dems Urge Sessions to Reject AT&T-Time Warner Merger

A group of Democratic Senators is calling on the Justice Department to Block the proposed AT&T-Time Warner Merger, arguing the Megadeal would hurt Consumers. “Before initiating the next big wave of media consolidation, you must consider how the $85 billion deal will impact Americans' wallets, as well as their access to a wide-range of news and entertainment programming,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Should you determine that the substantial harms to competition and consumers arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits, you should reject the proposed acquisition.”

The group is led by: Sen. Al Franken (D-MI) and includes Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (MA), Ron Wyden (OR), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Maria Cantwell (WA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Cory Booker (NJ), Sherrod Brown (OH), Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

In a statement, an AT&T Spokesman pushed back on the letter, arguing that the Merger will help increase Consumer choice and that concerns over the Deal's threat to Content Discrimination are overblown. “We’ve addressed all of the issues raised by this letter in AT&T’s and Time Warner’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last January, in our February 2017 response to this same group of Senators, as well as in the extensive review of this transaction currently in process at the Department of Justice," the Spokesman said. "Specifically, we’ve highlighted how our merger is about giving consumers more choices, not less," he added.

President Trump railed Against the Merger as a Candidate in October, vowing that his Administration would not allow it to go through. But since taking Office he has generally Appointed Conservatives to his Administration who are inclined to take a less intrusive approach to Regulating Mergers.

In their letter, the Democrats argued the Merger could lead to less Competition among Mobile Broadband and Television Providers. And they raised concerns AT&T could Violate Net Neutrality Principles by Restricting Competitors' Online and Television Content in favor of its own.

“As the DOJ finalizes its review of the transaction, we call on you to defend American competition and innovation and ensure that Americans have open and affordable access to communications services, as well as a wide range of programming,” the letter reads. “We hope you'll take a stand for U.S. consumers and businesses and closely scrutinize the transaction.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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