AT&T to Acquire Time Warner for $85B

By Features PCmag

AT&T on Saturday announced that it will acquire Time Warner Inc. for $85.4 billion.

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The boards of directors of both companies have approved the deal, but it must still pass muster with regulators.

"Premium content always wins. It has been true on the big screen, the TV screen and now it's proving true on the mobile screen," AT&T chief Randall Stephenson said in a statement. "We'll have the world's best premium content with the networks to deliver it to every screen.

"A big customer pain point is paying for content once but not being able to access it on any device, anywhere. Our goal is to solve that. We intend to give customers unmatched choice, quality, value and experiences that will define the future of media and communications," he continued.

Time Warner Inc. is not to be confused with Time Warner Cable; the two companies split in 2009. Time Warner Inc. now comprises Home Box Office, Inc., Turner, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.—whose properties include HBO and Cinemax, CNN, TBS, TNT, and more.

Time Warner and AT&T talked up the opportunities for original content. "Owning content will help AT&T innovate on new advertising options, which, combined with subscriptions, will help pay for the cost of content creation. This two-sided business model — advertising- and subscription-based — gives customers the largest amount of premium content at the best value," they said in a statement.

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AT&T closed its acquisition of DirecTV last year. Recently, AT&T announced plans to launch a streaming video service by the end of the year. Dubbed "DirecTV Now," it will offer more than 100 channels at a "very, very aggressive price point," Stephenson said last month.

Like they did when Comcast acquired NBC Universal in 2011, regulators will likely have questions. Already, Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, said in a statement that the deal "raises some immediate flags about consolidation in the media market."

"I'm skeptical of huge media mergers because they can lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers," Sen. Franken said. "And regulators often agree, like when Comcast unsuccessfully tried to buy Time Warner Cable, a deal that I fiercely opposed. In the coming days, I'm going to be pressing for further details about this reported deal and how it would affect the American consumer, who deserves access to the content they want and whose pocketbook continues to be squeezed by rising cable and internet costs."

Franken was similarly skeptical of AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile in 2011, which went down in flames amidst regulatory pushback.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.