Conservative and Liberal Coalition Urges Jeff Sessions to Block AT&T, Time Warner Merger


Seven conservative and liberal groups wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging him to complete a thorough antitrust investigation of the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner and, ultimately, block the merger between the two media conglomerates.

The list of conservative and liberal groups includes Americans for Limited Government, American Family Association, the Consumer Federation of America, Frontiers of Freedom, Public Knowledge, Writers Guild of America-West, and Tea Party Patriots.

The coalition wrote in their letter to the Attorney General:

While the undersigned groups’ opinions diverge significantly on many policy issues, we are united in our desire to ensure that free expression is not threatened by an increasingly limited number of companies that dominate U.S. media. We hope that the department seeks aggressively to defend these principles as it reviews the pending merger.

As entities that closely follow the U.S media landscape, we are acutely aware that AT&T and Time Warner are already massive media conglomerates in their own rights. AT&T’s 2015 purchase of DirecTV made it the country’s top pay-TV firm, the No. 2 wireless provider, and the No. 3 broadband company. Time Warner, meanwhile, owns CNN and HBO, three of the top five general entertainment cable networks, and the second largest movie studio in Warner Brothers.

We are deeply concerned that allowing these firms to join forces — without significant conditions that fully address all competitive concerns — would intolerably limit consumers’ control over what they watch and where they get their information. The First Amendment is the bulwark of political discourse, and the proposed ATT-Time Warner merger will necessarily further restrict the diversity of speech which strengthens our nation as it becomes in the new company’s interest to promote select channels over alternative outlets.

In an op-ed to the Investor’s Business Daily, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning wrote that allowing the merger between AT&T and Time Warner could allow for CNN to spread more dishonest news and even have more influence in the media after the merger.

Manning wrote, “For example, this merger could give CNN even more influence and power than they enjoy today. Yes, I’m talking about the “Clinton News Network” that repeatedly presented fake and dishonest news designed to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.”

Manning added,

If the merger goes through, AT&T’s powerful reach into our homes and computers would give them the ability to increase the power of their own networks — like CNN. CNN and its biased news could gain higher visibility and AT&T could also make it more difficult or impossible for consumers to find conservative or more-balanced news alternatives. The last thing we need is a corporate giant that makes CNN and other networks it owns even more powerful.

On the presidential campaign trail, President Donald Trump labeled the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner “as an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

Peter Navarro, who now leads the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said during the presidential campaign that President Donald Trump would never approve a deal that would concentrate too much power in the hands of the few.

Navarro said:

The very corporations that have gained from shipping America’s factories and jobs offshore are the very same media conglomerates now pushing Hillary Clinton’s agenda. She is the official candidate of the multinational ruling elite.

NBC, and its Clinton megaphone MSNBC, were once owned by General Electric, a leader in offshoring factories to China. Now NBC has been bought by Comcast, which is specifically targeting the Chinese market – even as Comcast’s anchors and reporters at MSNBC engage in their Never Trump tactics.

AT&T, the original and abusive “Ma Bell” telephone monopoly, is now trying to buy Time Warner and thus the wildly anti-Trump CNN. Donald Trump would never approve such a deal because it concentrates too much power in the hands of the too and powerful few.

CNN, which has served as a constant source of controversy over fake news, might have to become a separate news organization or have its president resign to get the merger approved.

Fox Business’s Charlie Gasparino claimed that Time Warner might need to spin off CNN as a separate entity to make the deal work. Vanity Fair reported in July that AT&T “would spin him off in a minute” to get the merger approved. One media consultant added, “They don’t care about him.”

The Senate confirmed Makan Delrahim to head the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division, which will review the pending merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Delrahim will have jurisdiction to conduct the antitrust investigation of the merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

The liberal and conservative coalition concluded in their letter:

Ensuring that our society retains effective access to a diversity of viewpoints is a major component of the government’s responsibility to protect competition in media markets, where it also protects the values underlying the First Amendment. At this time where giant media companies are aggressively seeking to consolidate, our antitrust laws have rarely been a more potent and needed defender of American consumers of all stripes and ideologies.

Read the rest of the letter here.