WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined a group of 11 Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), in pressuring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reject AT&T’s massive $85 billion bid to acquire Time Warner if it determines that the significant harms to American consumers arising from the deal outweigh any alleged benefits.
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Senators made the case that allowing this proposed merger to move forward—in what would be yet another instance of consolidation in the already highly concentrated pay-TV and media industries—will result in higher TV and internet prices, fewer choices, and worse service. The group also argued that if federal regulators put strict “conditions” on the deal as a compromise, they would be insufficient in addressing all the ways the mega media conglomerate could restrict access to diverse television programming and premium channels like HBO, raise monthly bills for consumers, and violate the principles of net neutrality.
“While we cannot possibly predict all the harms that could arise from this deal, we maintain that AT&T's proposed acquisition of Time Warner would result in higher prices, fewer choices, and worse service for consumers,” the Senators wrote. “We hope you'll take a stand for U.S. consumers and businesses and closely scrutinize the transaction. Should you determine that the substantial harms arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits, we urge you to reject it.”
In addition to Blumenthal and Franken, today’s letter to the attorney general was signed by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
AT&T is the second largest mobile broadband provider and one of the nation’s leading content distributors after having purchased DIRECTV just two years ago. Time Warner is one of the world’s largest TV and entertainment companies, owning networks such as HBO and CNN. By combining, these two companies would create a media conglomerate with the incentive and ability to harm competitors and ultimately consumers.
You can read the full text of today’s letter by clicking here.