Though AT&T and Time Warner were probably expecting it, their stunning $85 billion merger deal announced this weekend has politicians from both sides expressing concerns about the antitrust implications.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign said she would want the deal to be thoroughly reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“[Certainly], she thinks regulators should scrutinize it closely,” said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon, according to Reuters.
Candidate Donald Trump went further, saying he would stop the deal as president, though he would not actually have the ability to do that.
“AT&T is buying Time Warner, and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” Trump said at a rally in Gettysburg, Pa., according to the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Trump said the deal is “an example of the power structure I am fighting.”
Over in Congress, Senator Mike Lee, the Republican chair of the Senate subcommittee on antitrust, and Senator Amy Klobuchar, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said in a joint statement on Sunday that they would examine the deal and the approval process closely.
“We have carefully examined consolidation in the cable and video content industries to ensure that it does not harm consumers,” they said in their statement . “An acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T would potentially raise significant antitrust issues, which the subcommittee would carefully examine.”
Joining the chorus of skeptics was Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who said in a statement:
I’m skeptical of huge media mergers because they can lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers…In the coming days, I’m going to be pressing for further details about this reported deal and how it would affect the American consumer, who deserves access to the content they want and whose pocketbook continues to be squeezed by rising cable and internet costs.
The companies announced the deal over the weekend, but have yet to file related documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission. The companies plan to hold a press conference today at 8:30 a.m. EST to discuss the proposed deal.
The deal must be approved by shareholders, which will likely take months. And any antitrust review is unlikely to be finished until some time in 2017.