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AT&T, DOJ Settlement Talks Fail

15 Dec, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Settlement talks between AT&T and U.S. Department of Justice regarding the former’s $84.5 billion acquisition of Time Warner have reportedly failed — setting in motion a previously announced court date March 19.

The DOJ in November filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging the merger between the telecommunications giant and Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros., Turner and HBO, would prove detrimental to industry-wide development of online video, in addition to upward pressure on pay-TV subscriptions, among other issues.

Specifically, the government has requested AT&T divest Turner cable networks, including CNN, TBS and TNT, according to TheStreet.com.

“All parties have engaged in good-faith settlement negotiations, but despite their efforts, have not been able to settle the matter,” said the filing as reported by Reuters.

Indeed, Turner — in an effort to assuage regulators — had reportedly agreed not to go “dark” with any pay-TV distributor for seven years following closure of the merger in the event of any license/retransmissions disagreements.

The trial is scheduled to last just 15 days — an important deadline considering AT&T is on the hook to pay Time Warner $500 million should the deal fall through.

Separately, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Dec. 15 announced he is exiting the boards of Boeing and Emerson to focus his time primarily on the merger.

“Mr. Stephenson informed the company that the coming year will be an extremely busy one for him at AT&T, and that he thought it best to step down from the board as a result,” Boeing said in a regulatory filing.

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