WASHINGTON — According to media reports, AT&T Inc. is negotiating to buy Time Warner Inc. in a merger that could be worth more than $85 billion. The deal would bring together one of the nation’s largest phone and internet providers with an entertainment media colossus that includes CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT and Warner Brothers studios, among other properties.
Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:
"Any time you hear media executives talking about synergies, throwing around the business babble that always accompanies these rumors, you know it’s time to grab your wallet and hang on tight. Big mergers like this inevitably mean higher prices for real people, to pay down the money borrowed to finance these deals and their golden parachutes. The deals are driven by Wall Street’s insatiable desire for short-term growth at any cost. And just as AT&T’s recent purchase of DIRECTV was quickly followed by price hikes, there’s every reason to expect this potential tie-up would cost internet users and TV viewers dearly too.
"It’s a good thing there’s a renewed interest among lawmakers and antitrust enforcers in addressing this merger mania. It’s also a good thing we have solid Net Neutrality rules on the books — even though companies like AT&T continue to test those rules in the market, threaten them in Congress, and challenge them in the courts. In the absence of strong antitrust enforcement and nondiscrimination rules, we know how AT&T will use acquisitions like this. They’ll deny programming to other distributors and favor their own content — slashing their own costs, but without passing any of those savings along to their customers."