Reports indicate that the Trump White House may not be in a position to block the merger of Time Warner Inc and AT&T Inc. This is despite the ongoing feud that President Donald Trump and CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, has. There has also been speculation that Trump may retaliate against CNN”s coverage of him by blocking the deal.
“White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner,” read a report in The New York Times.
An online publication had also reported that the Trump administration had said it would support the deal only if the current president of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, was fired from his position.
After the Times report appeared Democratic senators issued a warning saying they would not accept political interference in the matter. The Democratic senator for the state of Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar even wrote a letter to Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States, arguing that any political interference would amount to a violation of the First Amendment. Klobuchar also requested from Sessions contacts, if any, that had taken place between the Department of Justice and the White House on the proposed merger.
After the announcement of the deal between Time Warner and AT&T during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaigns, Trump vowed that his administration would not approve the deal since it would result in the concentration of too much power in one corporation.
Recently also Trump’s war against CNN has been escalating. During a trip to Warsaw, Poland last week, the U.S. president accused the news organization of engaging in ‘fake news’ reporting for a long time saying their coverage of him was dishonest.
Despite the animus Trump has for CNN, the president does not decide on the outcome of proposed mergers. In the case of the Timer Warner and AT&T deal, the decision lies squarely with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.
Earlier in the year the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said in a newspaper interview that the FCC would not be undertaking a review of the deal since there would be no transfer of airwave licenses. The proposed merger between Time Warner and AT&T is a vertical one since the two firms are not in direct competition with one another. This has also boosted the chances of the deal being given the go-ahead.