Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger

Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger
© Getty Images

A group of Democratic senators is calling on the Justice Department to block the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, arguing the megadeal would hurt consumers.

“Before initiating the next big wave of media consolidation, you must consider how the $85 billion deal will impact Americans' wallets, as well as their access to a wide-range of news and entertainment programming,” the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsData confirm that marijuana decriminalization is long overdue The FIRST STEP Act sets up a dangerous future The Sessions DOJ is working to end the great asylum hustle MORE.

“Should you determine that the substantial harms to competition and consumers arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits, you should reject the proposed acquisition.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The group is led by Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenControversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws AP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Franken offers Dems a line of questioning for Kavanaugh's 'weirdly specific bit of bulls---' MORE (D-Minn.) and includes Democratic Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Hillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs Dems push FTC to investigate smart TVs over privacy concerns MORE (Mass.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight House passes measure blocking IRS from revoking churches' tax-exempt status over political activity Senators introduce bipartisan bill to improve IRS MORE (Ore.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Anti-Trump protesters hold candlelight vigil by White House MORE (Ore.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Poll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Protests and anger: Washington in turmoil as elections near MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE (Ohio), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinControversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds MORE (Wis.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin Bernie Sanders tells Kansas crowd: This 'sure doesn’t look' like a GOP state The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia MORE (I-Vt.).

In a statement to The Hill, an AT&T spokesman pushed back on the letter, arguing that the merger will help increase consumer choice and that concerns over the deal's threat to content discrimination are overblown.

“We’ve addressed all of the issues raised by this letter in AT&T’s and Time Warner’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last January, in our February 2017 response to this same group of Senators, as well as in the extensive review of this transaction currently in process at the Department of Justice," the spokesman said.

"Specifically, we’ve highlighted how our merger is about giving consumers more choices, not less," he added.

President Trump railed against the merger as a candidate in October, vowing that his administration would not allow it to go through. But since taking office he has generally appointed conservatives to his administration who are inclined to take a less intrusive approach to regulating mergers.

In their letter, the Democrats argued the merger could lead to less competition among mobile broadband and television providers. And they raised concerns AT&T could violate net neutrality principles by restricting competitors' online and television content in favor of its own.

“As the DOJ finalizes its review of the transaction, we call on you to defend American competition and innovation and ensure that Americans have open and affordable access to communications services, as well as a wide range of programming,” the letter reads. “We hope you'll take a stand for U.S. consumers and businesses and closely scrutinize the transaction.”

Updated: 4:33 p.m.