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AT&T Government Businesses The Almighty Buck United States

Justice Department Tells Time Warner It Must Sell CNN Or DirecTV To Approve Its AT&T Merger (nytimes.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): The Justice Department has called on AT&T and Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, the group of cable channels that includes CNN, as a potential requirement for approving the companies' pending $85.4 billion deal, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. The other potential way the merger could win approval would be for AT&T to sell its DirecTV division, two of these people added. As originally envisioned, combining AT&T and Time Warner would yield a giant company offering wireless and broadband internet service, DirecTV, the Warner Brothers movie studio and cable channels like HBO and CNN. If the Justice Department formally makes either demand a requisite for approval, AT&T and Time Warner would almost certainly take the matter to court to challenge the government's legal basis for blocking their deal.
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Justice Department Tells Time Warner It Must Sell CNN Or DirecTV To Approve Its AT&T Merger

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  • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @05:06PM (#55515923)

    Used to be this kind of chicanery was done in the shade, not in the open.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Right, because consolidating telecom and media monopolies is oh-so-good.

      • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @06:00PM (#55516211)

        Your point is valid, but you miss mine, which is: This used to be done in the shade. Besides, this isn't protecting the consumer, this is Dear Leader being pissed at ATT for CNN's coverage of himself.

        Besides, in the past, the Gov't has taken a hacksaw to ATT for being too big.. once in the 30's and once in the 80's.. maybe more than that, I can't remember. Those were done in the open.

        But my point stands - this is a political knifing, which used to be done in the dark. This isn't protecting us, this is vengeance.

      • For them to directly tell a company that they have to sell a particular unit to make the deal go threw is a bit shady. Then you combine it with the fact that unit they want to sell is a news organization, that tends to be critical of the their boss, or more to the point their boss doesn’t like them because he prefers stations that suck up to him. Is worrying because it seems like the president is trying to mess with the freedom of press in any ways possible.

        Now media mergers are not good for the popu

        • For them to directly tell a company that they have to sell a particular unit to make the deal go threw is a bit shady.

          The DirectTV part is relatively normal. Satellite has long been pitched as the alternative that makes cable monopolies somewhat OK. So telling a company they can't dominate the satellite market and have a large cable monopoly is pretty standard anti-trust action.

          The "Sell CNN" part is definitely shady.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      So much for "all the media is controlled by giant corporates herp derp." Soon and someone tries to do something about it you line up behind your establishment media.

      • Not sure that's what TP is saying: think what's being said is that consumer-protection and control by "giant corporates" might not have been on this Justice Department's mind, given that Big T don't like CNN, and vice-versa. I would guess the thinking goes that if it was News Corp. trying to merge with ATT, this Justice Dep't might not be so quick to require them to drop the Fox News network.

        • If that happened during the Obama administration there will be hell to pay too. Granted for some people the far left would be fully supportive of this this as it would kill two birds with one stone. However it doesn’t make it right even if it was Fox News.

          Because we are crossing into free speech issues here.

      • Priorities man!
        This is a blantent way to hinder first amendment rights.
        Sure giant corporations are bad, however breaking them up to attempt to silence their hired journalists is evil.

    • The Washington Examiner [washingtonexaminer.com] says:

      * The suggestion came from AT&T.
      * The justice department was against it.

      I know it's easy to assume Trump would use the powers of the executive branch to punish his enemies. After all, that's what the Democrats have been doing for years now - and getting caught from time to time. So it's easy to assume the other side would act the same way.

      But, so far, The Donald doesn't seem to be stooping so low.

    • Your comment is true and to the point. But in the end they will pay off Trump in one way or another and this will go thru anyway. That this will be to the detriment of general consumers and businesses they serve matters not the Drump and his cadre of filthy unlawful idiots.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Trump wants to stop that "fake news". The analogy is hardly perfect, but when I think Trumpism Peronism comes to mind, or more specifically that fragment of the Evita Soundtrack.

    "What's new, Buenos Aires? Your nation which a few years ago had the second largest gold reserve in the world is now bankrupt. Your country which grew up and grew rich on beef is now rationing it. La Prensa, one of the few newspapers which dare to oppose Peronism has now been silenced and so have all the other reasonable voices. I'

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Trump wants to stop that "fake news". The analogy is hardly perfect, but when I think Trumpism Peronism comes to mind, or more specifically that fragment of the Evita Soundtrack.

      "What's new, Buenos Aires? Your nation which a few years ago had the second largest gold reserve in the world is now bankrupt. Your country which grew up and grew rich on beef is now rationing it. La Prensa, one of the few newspapers which dare to oppose Peronism has now been silenced and so have all the other reasonable voices. I'll tell you what's new, Buenos Aires...."

      Now I happen to think that the merger should be denied period, but the CNN angle I think is complete political bullshit. If this was Fox it would have likely been approved. Sinclair has certainly gobbled a lot of crap up that it shouldn't have been allowed to.

      Sounds like Venezuela, doesn't it?

      Trump's no angel, but Obama with his pen-and-a-phone was a lot closer to Peron, Chavez, and Maduro than Trump.

      When the alternative was a Clinton corruptocracy, Trump was probably the least-worst choice by the time Nov 2016 came around. Lord knows the swamp does need draining.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The tax cut they just proposed is rated to make the deficit 1.7T worse. Now deficits went up way the hell too much under Obama, though much of that was the side effects of the original Bush tax cuts. Either way, when the economy is doing alright is sure as hell not the time to blow the deficit the rest of the way to hell.

        The country improved under Bill Clinton. It improved under Obama. From what I recall I think it did okay under George H.W but got worse under George W. We are seeing okay gains under

    • ^^^^ This.

      As an Argentinian some parallels between Trump and recent Peronist administrations are chilling, to say the last. Google Cristina Kirchner's "Ley de Medios" (Media Law), an ill-fated attempt to push legislation reforming media licenses. It main goal was to kill the Clarin Media Group, a stern oppositor, and they weren't really subtle about it either.

  • "Justice Department Tells Time Warner It Must Sell CNN Or DirecTV To Approve Its AT&T Merger" makes it sound like TW owns DirecTV. As the second sentence of the summary indicates, AT&T owns DirecTV.

    Side note, DTV customer service SUCKS since the AT&T takeover. We made a small change to our service, they screwed it up, then they screwed up the billing for it, and it has taken about 5-10 so far to try to get it fixed, and (as of right now) it's still not fixed. DTV was never perfect, but if there

    • I know anecdote isn't data but I had a receiver box/DVR stop working on me. called and had a replacement delivered to me within 2 days of that.
    • Re:FIX THE HEADLINE (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@worf . n et> on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @06:34PM (#55516379)

      Side note, DTV customer service SUCKS since the AT&T takeover. We made a small change to our service, they screwed it up, then they screwed up the billing for it, and it has taken about 5-10 so far to try to get it fixed, and (as of right now) it's still not fixed. DTV was never perfect, but if there was a problem (and that was rare), it was usually fixed with a call or two. The current problem is not even the first we've had in the couple years since the takeover.

      Your mistake is believing it's accidental. If it's a billing error, it means it was a billing "error" in their favor (or you wouldn't be calling them about it).

      Think about it this way - if they can screw maybe 10% of their subscriber base out a few extra bucks a month, that's a few million in the bank. Sure they'll call and bitch, but eventually they'll give up of the 2 hour + times on the phone dealing with a $3 overcharge

      And heck, they probably know what phone numbers you call from, so they can "all agents are currently busy andd we'll handle your call in priority order" you for an extra half hour or more.

      The goal is to make it not worth your time to call them to fix it so they can keep dinging you an extra few bucks a month.

      Same with the "you'll see a credit on your next bill". They hope you'll forget about the money by then, too.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @05:17PM (#55515987)

    There is much speculation that the Justice Department is doing this because its master, El Presidente is all mad at CNN for "Fake News"...

  • by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @05:27PM (#55516037)
    I see how it is, as soon as Trump leaves the country they go and try to do something that is in the best interest of the public.
    • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @05:34PM (#55516075)

      I see how it is, as soon as Trump leaves the country they go and try to do something that is in the best interest of the public.

      Most likely, Trump is behind this - it's punishment for CNN's owners for allowing CNN to "spew Fake News" on our fine El Presidente.

      • So the "punishment" is to prevent further consolidation in media? Because consolidation of media is good? If Trump's EPA said the sky is blue, would you people devolve into a tirade on the finer points of Rayleigh scattering just on principle?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So the "punishment" is to prevent further consolidation in media? Because consolidation of media is good? If Trump's EPA said the sky is blue, would you people devolve into a tirade on the finer points of Rayleigh scattering just on principle?

          People tend to call bullshit when they see bullshit. For instance firing comey because they were mean to Hillary is complete and total bullshit. Saying that Trump now cares about anti trust, and the first case of caring is the news organization holding him to account, sounds an awfully lot like bullshit. Of course I think they should block a crap load of these mergers, just because companies get too big, not because they are Trump's political enemies.

          • The problem is people don't see bullshit when it comes from someone in their 'tribe'.

            For example: Anybody who voted for Hillary or Trump.

            I am similarly blind to Vermin's possible flaws...not that he has any.

          • by smelch ( 1988698 )
            What the fuck are you talking about? Other mergers blocked in 2017: Anthem-Cigna, FanDuel and DraftKings, Aetna-Humana. Why are you calling this the first? Those are also just the ones that came up on the first page of google when I searching for blocked mergers in 2017. Call it bullshit all you want but nobody wants this deal to go through. And it isn't just "sell CNN" it's "Sell Turner Broadcasting or DirecTV".
        • What does it even matter now? The readership of the flagship journalism outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times is falling, and what you're left with is basically "All Hyperbole All The Time" outlets like CNN and Fox News. It's pretty clear most people are not interested in news, but rather in heavily editorialized reporting that allows them to nestle safely into their echo chambers. Just look at the coverage of the gubernatorial and state elections in Virginia. From CNN, you would think 201

        • Media consolidation is bad. The government's use of antitrust law to hamstring media is worse. If true, and traceable to the Cheeto Caligula, it will be mentioned in the articles of impeachment.
          • The fact that you people think you accomplish anything at all by inventing clever nicknames for a politician you don't like is an indicator of the quality of your reasoning and judgment.
      • Did you miss the fake news about Trump dumping his fish food into the koi pond yesterday? Literally more fake news. The sad thing is, the real news likely didn't make it out and millions of people think Trump deliberately harmed a koi pond instead of just following Abe's lead.
        • I watched the video and happen to know that's not how you do it anyhow. Are you even real?
          You act like someone who has brain parasites. Did your ex make you clean out the catbox?

  • Trump has had the stance since day one that the merger wouldn't happen under his administration, so this is expected.

    In addition, we need to break these folks up, not let them keep consolidating into ever larger " too big to fail " entities. We have a monopoly problem already, don't need to throw more fuel on the fire.

    One giant company shouldn't be allowed to own the content, the pipes and the end mechanism to deliver it all.

    Too much power consolidated into too few hands makes it all too easy to sway publi

  • .....CNN will have to go. Maybe MSNBC will buy them. lololol :)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I agree ATT wont sell DTV. too much valuable spectrum that can be put to other uses once linear TV programming goes the way of the dodo bird. spectrum is about the only thing of real value any of these companies have anymore. The programming is shit, The wireline service is rotting away and im sure theyll be more than happy enough to dump that into someone elses lap like Verizon did with the wireline they dumped into Frontier's lap.

      That directv spectrum doesn't just have to be used from space to ground, cou

  • It's time to start putting the universe back in order.

  • Enough with the breaking news. Someone should tell them that it's not breaking news when you've been saying it for three days. Why don't they just put up an animation of Don Lemon shaking his head while a recording says trump-trump-trump-trump-trump. And what's with all the ex-CIA and former generals? Do they need the money that badly?
  • KILL CNN!

    KILL CNN!

    What do we want? Less propaganda!

    When do we want it? About 10 years ago!

  • In broad terms, there is an argument that government should tune the mixture and sizes of corporations within markets so to maximize social efficiency or equity. On the other hand, there is the philosophical objection that individual liberty should take precedence, and that sub-optimal social outcomes must be accepted as a price for granting individuals liberty to make decisions on their own, free of coercion, because individual liberty is inherently preferred. The latter would not be unusual. For example

  • by SEMLogistics ( 1114137 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @08:46PM (#55517047) Homepage
    So... Where is this standard applied to the FCC allowing the Sinclair Broadcasting acquisition of Tribune Media assets? This will essentially create the single largest TV broadcasting conglomerate on the face of the planet (conservative friendly, of course). Such a conglomerate would control multiple news media outlets, in many locations, essentially dominating local news for much of the US...
  • If CNN is sold, why does it change their coverage?

    Why does that mean staffing changes?

    That will be controlled by the BUYER. If CNN is sold to Fox or the Koch brothers there would be staffing changes but certainly there is some left leaning buyer with the necessary deep pockets

    • It's not changing the coverage that Reichsfurher Pussigrabber is trying to accomplish, he's trying to stop one company controlling both content and delivery, which means they won't be broadcasting bullshit right-wing nonsense.
  • Should we go back and force them to sell off NBC Universal? I say yes, especially since AT&T is probably going to say something like, "Hey, you let Comcast do it!"
  • I can think of some other lame channels TWC should sell off.

    Other than political convenience, what is the official reason to require this?

    Monopoly of some flavor? Conflict of interest? Fiduciary responsibility?

    I'm not sure selling off CNN would hurt them so much. Is that mistaken?

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