As has been widely reported in the media over the weekend, U.S. telecom giant, AT&T, has agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion after weeks of speculation. As expected, however, the deal has raised the hackles of many activists who have spoken out against such large-scale media consolidation, especially following on the heels of the Comcast-NBC Universal deal that brought together the gigantic cable company with the massive media conglomerate in a multi-billion dollar deal that got regulatory approval from the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011. As for the latest deal, AT&T has agreed in principle to pay $107.50 per share, valuing Time Warner at $85.4 billion. The acquisition is yet to receive regulatory approval, but is expected to get the green signal with the Comcast–NBCU deal acting as precedence.
AT&T may be putting up a pretty penny for Time Warner, but the telecom giant was apparently the only company interested in the media conglomerate if a recent interview from the Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, Mr. Jeff Bewkes, is anything to go by. Talking to CNBC about the acquisition, Mr. Bewkes claimed that AT&T was the sole bidder for Time Warner. According to him, “Nobody else approached the company for a deal”. While Time Warner is one of the largest media conglomerates in the country and owns some of the most profitable cable stations such as HBO and CNN, some AT&T investors and market analysts are openly wondering whether the telecom firm is overpaying for the media company that also owns Time Warner Cable and Hollywood movie studio, Warner Bros.
While Apple was also said to be evaluating the pros and cons of acquiring Time Warner, if Mr. Bewkes’ new revelation is anything to go by, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant very likely didn’t quite go through and make an offer after all. Either way, the proposed deal has already attracted the attention of lawmakers in Washington, with influential leaders, such as Senator Bernie Sanders saying that the deal should be nipped in the bud to avoid a monopoly, which would mean higher prices and fewer choices for consumers in the long run. He has also found support from an unexpected quarter. With his distaste for the media not exactly a state secret, Republican Presidential hopeful, Mr. Donald Trump, has weighed in, invoking the ‘Ma Bell’ origins of AT&T. According to his economic adviser, Mr. Peter Navarro, the deal should never be approved “because it concentrates too much power in the hands of the too and powerful few”.