FCC chair doesn't expect to review AT&T-Time Warner merger

FCC chair doesn't expect to review AT&T-Time Warner merger
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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said on Monday that he does not expect the AT&T-Time Warner deal to be subject to his agency’s approval.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Pai said that AT&T's purchase of Time Warner has been structured in a way that would allow it to avoid FCC scrutiny by not transferring any airwave licenses between the two companies.

“That is the regulatory hook for FCC review,” Pai said. “My understanding is that the deal won’t be presented to the commission.”

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In an SEC filing last month, Time Warner revealed that it would not be transferring any of its FCC licenses to AT&T as part of the $85 billion merger.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the lone Democrat on the panel, has called for the deal to be scrutinized by the FCC.

"To put things in perspective, this transaction is worth $16 billion more than the Comcast/NBC-U and the subsequently abandoned AT&T/T-Mobile deals combined," Clyburn said in a statement. "This Commission has both the authority and responsibility to thoroughly examine this transaction and we should not shrink from our responsibilities under the laws we are responsible for implementing”.

The deal will still have to be cleared by the Justice Department.

President Trump came out against the deal when it was first announced while he was on the campaign trail last year, but he's since indicated that he is open to changing his position.

"I have been on the record in the past of saying it's too big and we have to keep competition,” he told Axios last month. “So, but other than that, I haven't, you know, I haven't seen any of the facts, yet. I'm sure that will be presented to me and to the people within government."