AT&T wants to buy Time Warner for a cool $85 billion, and that is a bad idea for consumers. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering suing AT&T, but not for the reason we might imagine.
We might think Donald Trump does not want an AT&T/Time-Warner merger, because Comcast tried to buy NBC Universal earlier this decade. Any major merger between an internet provider and a network would give the conglomerate control over huge amounts of content. That is not why.
Donald Trump hates CNN.
The Justice Department (DOJ) allegedly wanted Time Warner to sell CNN before it approved the deal. An official in the U.S. government said that the DOJ had given AT&T several options to avoid the antitrust suit, and disagreed that it had requested Time Warner sell CNN.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that she did not know anything about Donald Trump trying to block the deal.
Of course, there are good reasons for the DOJ to block the merger. Revenge just does not happen to be one of them.
Policy director at Free Press, a consumer advocacy group, Matt Wood said, according to Business Insider:
‘When AT&T buys a lot of content, they use that content as a sword.’
A former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Michael Copps voted against the deal. He was particularly concerned about how the merger would affect Time Warner’s news. Business Insider reported that he said:
‘I had seen merger after merger come along where the costs were in the billions of dollars. A lot of these big companies turn to newsrooms as a way to cut costs. It’s dumbed down our democratic dialogue.’
The merger of AT&T and Time Warner would bring the telecommunications giant Conan O’Brien, and its customers a higher bill.
The musician, Taylor Swift released a new album in November, “Reputation.” Unfortunately, she signed an exclusive deal with AT&T and DirecTV. If people want to see her videos and behind-the-scenes clips and have a different provider, too bad.
Look what happened when Rupert Murdoch bought FOX. The network became a propaganda arm of the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party, notably Donald Trump.
An AT&T/Time-Warner merger would mean one entity would have a huge amount of control over what its audience sees or does not see. That goes for Game of Thrones, NBA games, and all content in between the two.
It could limit new movies and videos. One example Business Insider gave was:
‘It could potentially create new “Harry Potter” videos or shows involving characters from the DC comics universe and only allow its customers to watch them. If you were a customer of Verizon or some other service, you would be out of luck.’
AT&T already offers free HBO on some of its unlimited wireless plans. Other providers make you pay for it. That would be a very unfair advantage over its competition.
On the other side, the communications giant would have the potential to block its competition from accessing. AT&T would be able to charger high rates to the other providers or block them from HBO altogether.
At this time, AT&T has been developing an ultra-modern mobile broadband service, 5G. It could replace wired internet service. Comcast, which is wired, can only offer cable TV in sites where it has coaxial cable lines.
AT&T’s competition, DirecTV Now service is available to anyone in the country with a broadband hookup.
Time Warner’s stock nearly flat-lined with the news, but AT&T shares increased slightly.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla.