AT&T CEO: I 'Have No Intention' of Selling CNN

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He explained that antitrust officials could make a strong argument that AT&T could leverage the Turner networks like CNN, Cartoon Network, and others to give itself an edge over competing distributors.

"It's all about CNN", one unnamed source with "direct knowledge" of the negotiations told the Financial Times. Time Warner's other major unit is Warner Brothers, its film and TV studio.

One person said AT&T offered to sell CNN, a proposal the government rejected, while another person said the Justice Department brought up the idea of divesting either DirecTV, the satellite provider, or Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, TNT and TBS. He's looking for ways to remedy the competitive issues posed by the combination of AT&T's vast communications network and Time Warner's media empire.

The DOJ subsequently responded to Stephenson's statement. "Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so".

The Justice Department said it's "committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts", according to a statement. "Beyond that, the Department does not comment on any pending investigation".

Trump has continually criticized CNN's news coverage, calling it "fake news" or "fraud news".

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"As an example of the power structure I'm 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", Trump said in an October 22 speech.

But AT&T's Chief Financial Officer John Stephens told investors at a conference that approval by federal regulators is not as assured as previously thought.

In July, the New York Times reported that White House advisers had discussed using the deal as "a potential point of leverage over their adversary" CNN.

Media reporter Peter Kafka argued that more broadly, the move could have a chilling effect on organizations that stand up to the Trump administration. He spoke out once saying he would consider blocking the deal because it would create too large a company, but has not weighed in for almost a year. Stephenson is set to appear at an event in New York City on Thursday and will likely face questions about the deal. However, all of that effectively hinges on the AT&T-Time Warner deal going through.

The plan to merge Time Warner's content production and channels assets, including, HBO and Warner Bros., with AT&T's distribution pipeline is a game changer for the media world.

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