Today The New York Times reported that the Depart of Justice has called on AT&T and Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting Group the group of cable networks including CNN as a potential requirement for approving the companies’ pending $85.4 billion deal. Or sell off DIRECTV and keep the cable networks.
The demand puts pressure on AT&T as DIRECTV is a significant part of AT&T’s future plans. Additionally, Turner Broadcasting Group has been a major attraction for AT&T purchase of Time Warner.
Now the future of the deal is in doubt as AT&T’s Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said the approval of the merger is “now uncertain.”
At the Wells Fargo Media & Telecom Conference in New York, Stephens said the telco is in “active discussions” with the Dept. of Justice, although he could not comment on the talks specifically.
“But with those discussions, I can now say that the timing of the closing of the deal is now uncertain,” Stephens said. “With regards to the transaction, everything continues as we’ve expressed in the past.”
If the DOJ formally requests the sale of Turner or DIRECTV an official requirement AT&T could take the issue to court over the government’s legal basis for blocking the deal.
For now, the future of the AT&T and Time Warner deal looks increasingly uncertain.
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