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Would AT&T–Time Warner Merger Exploit Customers and Competitors?

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AT&T-Time Warner senate hearing

In the recent Senate hearing held in December 2016 regarding the proposed AT&T (T) and Time Warner (TWX) merger, the companies’ executives met with scrutiny. The CEOs of AT&T and Time Warner defended their proposed $85 billion deal to lawmakers.

Senator Mike Lee expressed concerns as to whether the combined entity would have any incentive to restrict its content from other distributors. However, AT&T said that the two companies don’t compete with each other in the wireless or wireline segments. The company further stated, “This transaction is about giving consumers more choices, not less. It is about expanding the distribution of Time Warner’s content, not restricting it.” The acquisition should help Time Warner to deliver its content on multiple platforms.

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AT&T mobility subscribers and connections

As shown in the above chart, AT&T’s total mobility subscribers and connections rose ~5.5% YoY (year-over-year) to reach 133.3 million in 3Q16, compared to 126.4 million in 3Q15. In the event of a deal approval, AT&T will command a significant share of the US telecommunications-media market.

AT&T believes that after a difficult regulatory review process, it will successfully complete its acquisition of Time Warner at the end of 2017. Comcast (CMCSA) is another company whose acquisition of a 51% stake in NBCUniversal from General Electric (GE) has recently been approved by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) after a 13-month review.

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