NEW: The Justice Dept claims that AT&T privately offered to sell CNN. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson DENIES that: "Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so."
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 8, 2017
Update 2: The plot thickens. According to CNN’s Brian Stelter, while the DOJ claims AT&T privately offered to sell CNN, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has denied that claim: “Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so.”
The denial comes after reports by Bloomberg and others that 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.
As Bloomberg notes, the conflicting views highlight just how far apart the two sides are in getting a deal done and the risk that talks could hit an impasse. Without an agreement, the Justice Department would sue to block the merger, as soon as next week, one Bloomberg source said. The agency is concerned that AT&T’s ownership of Time Warner content could raise the costs of its pay-TV rivals, according to one of the people.
Bloomberg aldo adds that it’s not clear if AT&T would be willing to part with anything it’s acquiring from Time Warner. The company has said it considers CNN, the news network that has been a lightning rod for President Donald Trump, a prize asset, and the company also considers properties such as the Warner Bros. studio, HBO, TNT and TBS essential, people familiar with the matter said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 8, 2017.