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Reports: AT&T, Time Warner Merger in Advanced Stage

21 Oct, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Speculation regarding AT&T acquiring Time Warner took a turn toward reality, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper Oct. 21 said a deal could happen — or not — this weekend, news that sent Time Warner shares soaring.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes reportedly is willing to sell the company for the right price. Two years ago, he and the board rejected a $75 billion offer from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

Mergers and acquisition rumors are nothing new, especially in media as evolving technology alter how consumers get their entertainment. For example, Netflix has been at the center of ongoing merger speculation, and Disney reportedly was interested in acquiring Twitter.

AT&T, like Verizon, has been aggressive on the M&A front, acquiring satellite operator DirecTV for $49 billion last year, becoming the nation’s largest pay-TV operator next to Comcast. Charter Communications recently finalized its purchase of Time Warner Cable — a deal Comcast was prohibited from doing by regulators.

As AT&T expands its distribution prowess, it lacks proprietary access to content. Time Warner, which owns Turner, HBO and Warner Bros., is a content-creating juggernaut.

With AT&T about to launch DirecTV Now, a standalone subscription streaming service, a merger with Time Warner would offer access to HBO Now, Warner Archive and Turner’s delayed FilmStruck SVOD service. The latter was supposed to go live Oct. 19, but has been postponed to next month, according to a FilmStruck Twitter post.

“Disappointing, but we’re delaying launch to Nov to refine the sign-up process. We’re hard at work. It’s gonna be great.”


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