AT&T hopes to bypass Federal Communications Commission (FCC) scrutiny of its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner because the broadcaster does not plan to transfer any FCC licenses to the operator as part of the deal, regulatory filings show.
Time Warner runs one broadcast station in Atlanta which is regulated by the FCC along with some minor FCC licenses, Reuters reported. In its filing the broadcaster said it does not believe it will need to transfer its FCC licenses to AT&T “in order to continue to conduct its business operations”.
This means only the US Justice Department would need to review the merger. It will have to prove the deal would harm competition should it want to block the deal, the Reuters report said.
However, the FCC is within its powers to block any deal it believes is not in public interest.
Last month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson highlighted the pro-competition benefits of the deal to US Senators. He reportedly promoted the deal as one which will create greater competition for consumers, while accelerating the next generation of advanced wireless broadband.
Meanwhile, despite President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, AT&T was reassured by the appointment to his transition team of two antitrust officials with a track record of taking a light touch regarding takeovers.
AT&T said in October it believed Time Warner is “lightly regulated compared to much of AT&T’s existing operations.”