Even Bernie And Trump Agree On The AT&T Merger

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Senator Bernie Sanders and Republican nominee Donald Trump both agree that the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger would be a disaster for the American people.

“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,” Trump said Saturday to a crowd in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted out Sunday afternoon that the next administration should “kill Time Warner/AT&T merger. This deal would mean higher prices and fewer choices for the American people.”

AT&T made a major play to purchase Time Warner Saturday evening, offering the media giant over $85 billion or $107.50 per share for the company. (RELATED: AT&T Scoops Up Time Warner For A Cool $85 Billion)

Time Warner has a market capitalization of $69 billion as of Monday morning, and AT&T’s exceeds $230 billion. This deal would also be the largest acquisition made by AT&T in the past decade. Thus far, the biggest move by the company was its purchase of DirectTV for $49 billion in July 2015, and before that it was its take over of BellSouth for $85 billion in 2006. The merger, however, still faces approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T’s executive board does not seem incredibly worried about the FCC review of the merger.

“We look forward to discussing the many benefits of this transaction with our regulators.  In the modern history of the media and the Internet, the U.S. government has always approved vertical mergers like ours, because they benefit consumers, strengthen competition, and, in our case, encourage innovation and investment,” David McAtee, AT&T senior executive vice president and general counsel, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The merger promises to drastically reshape the media market. Coupling AT&T’s millions of television and wireless customers with Time Warner’s enviable media lineup that includes: CNN, TNT, and HBO, could cause some serious limitations on competition that could really hurt customers.

AT&T boasts 15.6 million internet service connections, 45.5 million video connections through DirectTV and U-Verse, and 141.8 million wireless customers in the U.S. and Mexico as of the second quarter of 2016.

“We intend to give customers unmatched choice, quality, value and experiences that will define the future of media and communications,” AT&T Chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson, said in a press release. “Time Warner’s leadership, creative talent and content are second to none. Combine that with 100 million plus customers who subscribe to our TV, mobile and broadband services – and you have something really special,” Stephenson added.

The company says this merger will help AT&T “to become the first U.S. mobile provider to compete nationwide with cable companies in the provision of bundled mobile broadband and video. It will disrupt the traditional entertainment model and push the boundaries on mobile content availability for the benefit of customers.”

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are not the only ones decrying the potential merger. Members of Congress joined in the dissent when news broke of the proposal Saturday evening. Other members of Congress have financially benefited from AT&T over the years, and it will be interesting to see how these members react in the coming weeks.

AT&T’s PAC has handed out some $4.2 million dollars to candidates on both sides of the aisle, including $700,000 to a committee for Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and $5,000 to Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Journal reports. The PAC also gave $1.5 million to host the Democratic National Convention and $4.2 million for the Republican National Convention.

The merger, if approved, is slated to be complete by 2017.

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