GOP senator calls for tight scrutiny on AT&T's proposed Time Warner merger

GOP senator calls for tight scrutiny on AT&T's proposed Time Warner merger
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote MORE (R-Maine) told the Department of Justice on Monday that she wants closer scrutiny of AT&T’s merger with Time Warner.

In a letter to acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch, Collins expressed concern with a consolidation of power that could lead to “reduced programming choices and higher prices for consumers.”

“The risk is real that the acquisition of such a prominent content producer by a distributor of AT&T’s size could allow it to dramatically reduce consumer choice in favor of its new in-house brand,” Collins wrote, noting that no other premium network like Showtime or Starz is also owned by distributors.

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“I’m also concerned that this merger could encourage and enable AT&T and DirecTV to raise content costs to harm pay-TV competitors,” she continued.

Collins is not the first lawmaker to voice this type of sentiment. Other members of Congress have also called on the federal government to look closely at the $85 billion deal.

In a congressional hearing regarding the merger, Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy MORE (D-Minn.) expressed skepticism at AT&T’s argument that the merger will benefit consumers and lead to reduced costs to customers by expanded economies of scale.

Experts don’t expect the merger to be blocked. Vertical mergers, like AT&T and Time Warner, are often less contested than horizontal ones like AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile, which the government stopped in 2011.

Makan Delrahim, the Trump-nominated antitrust chief at the Justice Department, hasn’t given any hint on his thoughts about the merger, but his conservative track record suggests a tendency to shy away from intervening in markets.