The US presidential election recently entered the final phase, and all that stands between Donald Trump and the White House is the vote of the Electoral College at this point. With his status now sitting at "President-Elect", Trump has been busying himself setting things up and getting a transition team ready, full of advisers who will end up in key roles in government when the dust settles. During his campaign, Trump talked of "draining the swamp" and getting corporate interests out of government. On this note, he specifically addressed the not-yet-complete merger of AT&T and Time Warner, saying that such a deal would not be approved under his administration. It seems that his tune has changed a bit, because a conversation with Trump's people has AT&T fairly confident that the deal will go off without a hitch.
AT&T's plan to scoop up Time Warner, and rights to all of the media properties that it controls, has raised eyebrows across the entire industry, with net neutrality and antitrust proponents decrying the deal en masse. The wireless giant has stake in popular media, the area of the industry where this deal would have the biggest impact. AT&T has been accused of violating net neutrality with its zero-rated DIRECTV Now service, which serves up content that AT&T has rights to through DIRECTV to select wireless customers without eating into their data plans. Naturally, when using Netflix or YouTube would take up a customer's precious data allotment, it's easy to see how this may give AT&T a bit of a home field advantage.
Donald Trump's cabinet, as the arrangement of officials pertains to telecoms and wireless, has a few key figures who want to diminish the FCC's authority and openly oppose net neutrality principles and laws, for reasons that are entirely their own. Thus, it's not too big of a surprise to see Trump's people assuring AT&T that there would be no knee-jerk repulsion or other bias in reviewing their proposed merger with Time Warner, and that it would be looked at from the perspective of consumers on a number of levels. While it's still not a guarantee that the deal will go through, these events point to the merger's approval, and at that point, only time can tell if it will actually be doing consumers any favors.