DOJ in 'advanced stage' of AT&T-Time Warner merger review: report

DOJ in 'advanced stage' of AT&T-Time Warner merger review: report
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The Justice Department's (DOJ) review of AT&T’s pending merger with Time Warner is reportedly in an “advanced stage,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to sources, the DOJ has also looked into whether or not AT&T’s customer data should be available to rivals at a “reasonable cost.” Such data could be valuable for targeted advertising, something that AT&T sees as increasingly valuable.

Allowing that access could help the merger pass regulatory approval.

The $85 billion merger has attracted criticism from both parties.

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President Trump during his campaign said he would oppose the deal. After taking office, it was unclear if Trump still opposed the deal. Other reports said officials in his administration saw it as potential leverage over CNN, a Time Warner network which has clashed with Trump over coverage.

Those reports led Democrats to press Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsCurtis wins Chaffetz's former Utah House seat Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny FBI can’t unlock Texas shooter’s phone MORE and other officials to ensure that there would be no political interference in the decision.

Democrats in Congress have also voiced concerns the deal could limit consumers' choices and raise prices.

Experts have said it is likely the deal will be approved as Time Warner and AT&T are not direct competitors. AT&T says it expects the deal to be finalized by the end of the year.

The DOJ's review is also advancing despite a vacancy atop its antitrust division. Trump’s nominee to be DOJ antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, is waiting for his nomination to move forward in the Senate.

Delrahim’s confirmation is not necessary for the deal to be approved, however. Should he be confirmed before it’s finalized, he has already said that he doesn’t see major problems with the merger.