The telecom-media giant that would be formed if United States federal regulators approve AT&T Inc’s US$85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc raises antitrust issues, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine and several U.S. lawmakers said on Sunday.
The biggest deal in the world this year will, if approved by regulators, give AT&T control of cable TV channels HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros and other coveted media assets. The tie-up will likely face intense scrutiny by U.S. antitrust enforcers worried that AT&T might try to limit distribution of Time Warner material.
Kaine said lawmakers and regulators would have to review the deal and “get to the bottom” of questions over whether the merger would decrease competition.
“I’m pro-competition,” Kaine said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Less concentration, I think, is generally helpful especially in the media.”
Kaine, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s running mate, said he had not had a chance to review the details of the deal. The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said at a rally on Saturday after the deal was announced that he would block it if he wins the Nov. 8 election against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” said Trump, who has accused the media of being biased against him and his campaign.
The U.S. Justice Department, not the president, has the power to reject such a deal if it violates antitrust laws. AT&T said it is unclear if the Federal Communications Commission will have jurisdiction to review the deal.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told reporters on Saturday night he believes regulators will approve the deal. The government typically in a vertical merger deals with concerns “by remedies, concessions if you will, and conditions imposed on a combination.”
Stephenson said there is “no competitive harm that is being rendered by putting these two companies together, so any concerns by the regulators, we believe, will be adequately addressed by conditions.”
Senators Mike Lee, the Republican chair of the Senate subcommittee on antitrust, and Amy Klobuchar, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said on Sunday the committee would carefully scrutinize the merger.
“We have carefully examined consolidation in the cable and video content industries to ensure that it does not harm consumers,” they said in a joint statement. “An acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T would potentially raise significant antitrust issues, which the subcommittee would carefully examine.”