AT&T-Time Warner deal likely to avoid FCC scrutiny

AT&T-Time Warner deal likely to avoid FCC scrutiny
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AT&T will likely circumvent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversight in its attempted purchase of Time Warner, according to an SEC filing released Friday.

In an S-4 filing, Time Warner said that it had completed a review of its FCC licenses and determined that it “will not need to transfer any of its FCC licenses to AT&T.”

If Time Warner and AT&T had decided to keep the licenses in the acquisition, the FCC would have had a chance to review and potentially block the $85 billion deal. President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE is reportedly still interested in blocking the sale, with some experts speculating that review of the deal by a Trump-appointed FCC chairman could thwart the company's’ intentions.

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On the campaign trail, Trump blasted the deal, saying that he would block it as president. He has also said that he’s interested in breaking up the completed Comcast and NBCUniversal merger.

The deal could still run into trouble with the Department of Justice (DOJ), where it will likely be reviewed by Trump’s attorney general pick. A DOJ decision that's opposed by AT&T and Time Warner could still be appealed in court.

An FCC ruling, on the other hand, would be more immutable. The FCC can block a merger it assesses as not in the “public interest.”

Time Warner shareholders have to meet to approve the deal on Feb. 15.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes defended the deal in a congressional hearing last month. The two argued that the acquisition would reduce inefficiencies and benefit consumers.