The $85 billion merger looked to be on a fast track for approval until earlier this month when President Donald Trump’s new head of antitrust enforcement, Makan Delrahim, who had previously said he didn’t see a “major antitrust problem” with the deal, threw up a major road block.
Delrahim’s division at the Justice Department reportedly demanding big concessions, such as the divestment of Turner Broadcasting, which owns CNN, or of DirecTV, AT&T’s satellite television business, leading some to believe that Delrahim is simply doing the bidding of President Trump, who famously hates CNN and has publicly criticized the deal.
The proposed deal is what is considered a vertical merger because TimeWarner and AT&T aren’t in the same business: One produces news and entertainment, the other distributes that content to consumers. The deal would be similar to the Comcast NBCUniversal merger in 2011.
“This merger is about maintaining and creating good U.S. jobs and developing new and innovative ways to deliver technology and content,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “A merged AT&T-TimeWarner would provide much-needed new competition to companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon, where working people don’t have union representation.”
CWA is opposed to the Department of Justice – or whoever else’s – insistence that AT&T must divest CNN or DirecTV because the union has a stake in both operations.
The decision-making process should be based solely on the merits of the case, the union said.
“CWA supports mergers when the partners are fully committed to creating good jobs – especially jobs that enable working people to negotiate a fair return on their work – and investing in our communities through improved services and benefits for consumers,” said CWA communications spokeswoman Candice Johnson. “[This deal] deserves approval.”