Sanders urges government to kill AT&T-Time Warner merger

Consumer advocates say a larger AT&T has every incentive to make Time Warner (HBO, CNN) content licensing more hard for streaming video providers, while also using zero rating to give its own content an unfair advantage. "When one giant company owns both the content and the means of distribution, there is a clear disincentive to provide additional choices to consumers". HBO and HBO Latin America have a combined seven licenses, and Turner Broadcasting System has 14 licenses.

AT&T would love to avoid an FCC review, which in the past has killed deals such as AT&T/T-Mobile and Comcast/Time Warner Cable.

Still, as the report points out, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson seems fairly certain that avoiding an FCC review of the deal isn't realistic.

"Approving this deal could lead to a wave of other mergers in the media industry", Sanders argued in a Wednesday letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse.

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By buying Time Warner, which also owns broadcasters HBO and Cartoon Network, they will be able to control popular TV shows including Game of Thrones and The Powerpuff Girls.

Make it your business.

"I think it raises questions and concerns, and they should be looked into", she told reporters on her campaign plane, according to Reuters.

A bipartisan group of senators on the Judiciary Committee called on former Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus to attend a December 7 hearing on the merger, which has raised anti-trust concerns and elicited a fair amount of criticism.

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The merger is expected to go before the Department of Justice, where it will be scrutinized by officials in the antitrust division. Only a couple days after the announcement of the merger, AT&T has unveiled plans to launch DirecTV Now (don't forget, they own them, too), a $35 per month streaming package with over 100 channels, next month. AT&T knows the process well, having used it to gain approval of last year's acquisition of DirecTV.

First the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, which share the work of ensuring that mergers are legal, must decide if there is a problem and then whether there is a solution.

But instead of summoning Jeff Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, to testify at its hearings, the committee accidentally invited Rob Marcus, the former CEO of Time Warner Cable, the pay-TV and broadband-internet company taken over earlier this year by cable company Charter Communications.

Numerous government's restrictions were created to prevent Comcast, a giant cable company and internet-service provider, from favoring its own video offerings over those from online TV rivals like Netflix or, on the other hand, keeping its programming from other cable or satellite TV companies. AT&T could favor Time Warner video on its mobile network by letting it stream without counting against the data caps applied to video services like Netflix.

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