Telephone juggernaut AT&T has reached a deal to buy one of media’s crown jewels, Time Warner Inc., for more than $80 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported today. “The deal is likely to be announced as soon as Saturday evening after the boards of the two companies meet to approve the transaction,” according to WSJ’s sources.
The deal pairs AT&T’s millions of wireless and pay-television subscribers with Time Warner’s network lineup such as HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and Hollywood’s biggest television and film studio, Warner Bros. Time Warner has formidable programming also, including the Harry Potter film franchise, DC Comics, blockbuster TV shows like the “Big Bang Theory,” “Game of Thrones” and classic cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and many more.
An AT&T purchase of Time Warner would be strategically similar to Comcast’s 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, giving a large stable of programming to one of the nation’s biggest Internet and TV service providers. This is likely to come with heavy scrutiny from government regulators, who have shown increasing skepticism over the consolidation of media into fewer empires, which raises concerns over the fairness and freedom of tomorrow’s entertainment.
“You have a big distributor owning some of the largest networks. Is everyone going to have equal access to those networks?” Eric Handler, a media and entertainment analyst for MKM Partners, tells The Washington Post.
An announcement would come weeks before the presidential election and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has already chimed in while at a rally in Gettysburg, Pa. “As an example of the power structure I am fighting, 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,” said Trump. “Deals like this destroy democracy.”