AT&T: No need to spin off CNN for Time Warner deal

AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson spoke out against spinning off CNN to help clear the way for his company's proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the parent company of the cable news network.

“I don’t know why we’d even talk about that,” Stephenson told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t seem relevant to approving a deal like this," Stephenson continued. "What would be the competitive issue that you’re remedying with spinning off CNN? There are not competitive issues with owning CNN."

Time Warner has a deep portfolio of television networks, including CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, NBA TV and Cartoon Network, among other online properties such as Bleacher Report. The company also owns the Warner Bros. film studio.

AT&T purchased satellite television service DirecTV for $48.5 billion in 2015.

"I feel very confident the deal gets done," Stephenson said.

"This is a vertical merger. The competitive environment in telecommunications does not change after this closes. The competitive environment in the media entertainment business does not change."

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJuan Williams: Trump gives life to the left Kennedy retirement rumors shift into overdrive Pompeo to outline post-deal strategy on Iran MORE — who has lashed out at CNN more than any other broadcast news outlet, recently calling it "fake news" — argued against the possible AT&T-Time Warner deal on the campaign trail in October.

"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.

There’s speculation that AT&T could spin off the cable news channel as a concession to get approval of the deal under a Trump administration.