AT&T® said that they are not looking to spin off the news channel CNN as part of their eight five billion acquisition deal of Time Warner®. This declaration from AT&T® has put to rest all the speculations about the fate of the news network as the deal is still under the review of the Justice Department.
John Stankey, who is the head of AT&T® Entertainment group, said that they see cable news as important as live sports. “It would be a strategically missed opportunity if we weren’t in that business,” Stankey said. He also added that CNN would continue to be editorially independent. This can be a likely nod to the criticisms of the news outlet by President Trump.
In his 2016 campaign, President Trump had promised to block the acquisition of Time Warner® by AT&T® over the concern that the resulting company would be much powerful in the media world. The President’s move was considered unusual, as professionals at the Federal Trade Commission, or the Justice Department, do most of the merger reviews, independent of the President’s office.
President Trump said during his election campaigns that he sees the merger “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.”
The specific mention of CNN by the President prompted some of the analysts to think if his opposition of the merger is due to his dissatisfaction with the coverage of the CNN network of him. This perception of the analysts was reinforced when the New York Times reported that the President’s office was considering using the deal as a leverage against the CNN network. However, with the guarantee of CNN’s independence from Stankey, who will be overseeing HBO, CNN, and other media properties of Time Warner® after the deal is completed successfully, it seems that AT&T® is trying to remove all doubts about the future of Cable News Network.
Both Time Warner® and AT&T® said that they are expecting the deal to close by the end of the year, however, AT&T® executives did not respond to request for comments. Experts in telecommunications industry believe that the merger may result in the formation of the fastest internet provider and cable company of the country, but we will have to wait for that.