Two Senators Not Pleased with FCC Chief’s Decision Regarding Time Warner and AT&T

Ajit Pai, the chairman of Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is not expecting any review for the $85.4 billion takeovers of Time Warner by AT&T

Last month, the new U.S President Donald Trump named Ajit Pai as the FCC chairman. Pai said the transaction between AT&T and Time Warner doesn’t require any review by FCC since AT&T is not expecting any broadcast licenses transferred from Warner.

On Monday, in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in the city of Barcelona, Pai told the Wall Street Journal, “That is the regulatory hook for FCC review. My understanding is that the deal won’t be presented to the commission.” A spokesperson from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed Pai’s expectations on the deal.

With this, we saw Time Warner (TWX) shares rise by 1 percent and on the other hand, AT&T (T) shares fell by more than 1 percent.

Time Warner revealed last week that it plans to sell its only FCC-controlled broadcast station- WPCH-TV located in Atlanta, the former WTBS to none other than Meredith Corp. for about $70 million. This move was designed to ease out the regulatory concerns.

As of now, the Justice Department is reviewing the merger closely. On Feb 17th, a letter was addressed to over a dozen U.S. senators by Time Warner and AT&T

A letter, which was signed by Timothy McKone, AT&T’s executive vice president regarding the federal relations, and Steve Vest, Time Warner’s senior Vice President (VP) of global public policy said, “We currently anticipate that Time Warner will not need to transfer any of its FCC licenses to AT&T to maintain its business operations. This merger will unleash a new wave of innovation in the video marketplace and bring much-needed competition to cable providers.” They wrote, “Market realities refute any concerns about anticompetitive effects.”

Out of the Democratic senators who were addressed in the letter, at least two of them seemed less than convinced. One of the senators, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, wrote on his Facebook page, “Their letter does little to address my concerns and essentially asks American consumers to trust that the combined company won’t engage in anticompetitive behavior, raise prices, violate the principles of net neutrality, or decrease access to diverse voices.”

Likewise, another senator Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass gave out a statement, “It’s not surprising that AT&T would claim the proposed deal benefits consumers, but we need an objective review … to truly evaluate how merging two massive companies into one behemoth will benefit my constituents and consumers from coast to coast.”

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