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AT&T reaches deal to buy Time Warner: report
Wireless giant AT&T has reached a deal to buy Time Warner, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, as the company pushes into the entertainment industry.
The Journal reported that the deal, which requires the approval of both companies' boards, will be formally announced as early as Saturday night and is valued at more than $80 billion.
Any sale would have to be approved by regulators, a process that would likely include both the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.
It follows days of reports about a looming deal. Big wireless providers have looked to expand into new business areas as they face the limits of their existing offerings.
Verizon, for example, has tried to build an ad targeting infrastructure that can compete with Google and Facebook. AT&T has looked to the entertainment and video industry.
Its purchase of Time Warner would give it control over prestige media brands like CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. That content, in turn, is delivered by the kind of wireless and wired infrastructure that has long been AT&T bailiwick.
That sort of consolidation worries public interest groups and their progressive allies in Congress. They say that, in a video marketplace roiled by new entrants like Netflix and Hulu, telecom companies could steer customers towards their own content.
"In the absence of strong antitrust enforcement and nondiscrimination rules, we know how AT&T will use acquisitions like this," said Matt Wood, policy director of advocacy group Free Press, in a statement on Friday before the deal was reportedly reached. "They'll deny programming to other distributors and favor their own content - slashing their own costs, but without passing any of those savings along to their customers."
And while establishment Republicans have traditionally been skeptical of actions meant to limit or stop mergers, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Saturday that he opposed the deal, a move seemingly rooted in the distrust of the media he and his supporters share.
"As an example of the power structure I am 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 during a speech in Gettysburg, Pa.