Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Rupert Murdoch twice discussed CNN with AT&T CEO

AT&T may have to dump CNN to get Time Warner deal approved Government's holdup of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner worries some
Theodore Harris | 12 November, 2017, 01:53

"Well I didn't make that decision - it was made by a man who's a very respected person, a very very respected person", Trump added.

In 2014, Twenty-First Century Fox proposed buying Time Warner for $80bn.

Justice Department staff recommended that AT&T sell either its DirecTV unit or Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting unit, which includes news company CNN, a government official told Reuters on Thursday, on the grounds that a combined company would raise costs for rival entertainment distributors and stifle innovation.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has denied that his company would ever sell CNN, while Vanity Fair reported some in media are speculating Murdoch has been quietly urging Trump to tank the merger in revenge for Time Warner declining an $80 billion buyout offer in 2014.

CNN has become a focal point in gaining competition approval for telecoms giant AT&T's $85.4bn (£64.7bn) bid to buy rival media giant Time Warner, which was announced last October.

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AT&T has argued against selling off either company's assets, as it believes this would undercut the rationale for the tie-up.

"I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can - especially since so many are fake", he told reporters on Air Force One.

The corporate negotiations are political in part because Trump frequently calls out CNN as "fake news".

"I did make a comment as to what I think", Trump also acknowledged.

Forcing a sale of CNN could harm the news network, if a buyer doesn't have the same deep pockets as AT&T and Time Warner to support newsgathering. The White House has also said that Trump has not spoken to Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the matter, nor were any White House officials authorized to speak to DOJ on it. The Department of Justice said it does not comment on pending investigations, but that it was "committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts". "It's illogical. It's why we did the deal", he said.

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