AT&T says Time Warner purchase could avoid FCC scrutiny

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By David Shepardson

<span class="articleLocation”>AT&T Inc expects to be able to bypass a powerful
telecommunications regulator in its planned $85.4 billion
acquisition of Time Warner Inc, the companies said in regulatory filings on Friday.

Time Warner said that since it does not plan to transfer any
Federal Communications Commission licenses to AT&T, it would
likely not need FCC approval and would only need the consent of
the U.S. Justice Department.

AT&T could forego the FCC by unloading a Time Warner
broadcast station, analysts say. Despite its big media
footprint, Time Warner has only one FCC-regulated broadcast
station, WPCH-TV in Atlanta. But it has other more minor FCC
licenses.

Time Warner said in its filing it does not anticipate it “will not need to transfer any of its FCC licenses to AT&T in
order to continue to conduct its business operations after the
closing.”

The deal faces other hurdles. For example, President-elect
Donald Trump has said he opposes the merger, and on Friday a
transition official told Reuters that Trump still was against
the deal the deal.

Time Warner shareholders will meet on Feb. 15 to decide
whether to approve the deal.

The Justice Department has to prove a proposed deal harms
competition in order to block it. But the FCC has broad leeway
to block a merger it deems is not in the “public interest” and
can impose additional conditions.

AT&T and Time Warner filed a premerger notification with the
Justice Department on Nov. 4, and on Dec. 8 the Justice
Department issued a second information request.

AT&T, which has repeatedly clashed with the FCC over the
past several years over major industry regulations, said in
October that one benefit of its purchase is that Time Warner is “lightly regulated compared to much of AT&T’s existing
operations.” (Additional reporting by Steve Holland)



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