Cantwell and Colleagues Pressure AT&T & Time Warner to Prove Mega-Merger is in Public Interest

Senators Contend That Further Media Consolidation Should Only Be Permitted if It Results in Better, More Affordable Phone, TV, & Internet Service for Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and a group of 12 Senate Democrats put pressure on AT&T and Time Warner to prove that their proposed mega-merger is in the American public’s interest.

Troublingly, because of how the two companies have signaled they are structuring the deal, they are no longer legally required to prove that their consolidation would serve the public interest—which Sen. Cantwell and her colleagues believe is necessary.

In a letter today to both AT&T and Time Warner’s CEOs, the senators said that American consumers deserve to know if this deal will be good for them.

“To achieve greater transparency for regulators, lawmakers, and American consumers, we ask that you provide us with a public interest statement detailing how you plan to ensure that the transaction benefits consumers, promotes competition, remedies all potential harms, and further serves the public interest through the broader policy goals of the Communications Act,” the Senators wrote. “We maintain that further consolidation in the telecommunications and media industries should only be permitted if it results in better and more affordable services for consumers across the nation, and we look forward to working with you to achieve this critical goal.”

AT&T is the second largest mobile broadband provider and one of the nation’s leading content distributors, with more than 25 million pay-TV subscribers. Time Warner is one of the world’s largest TV and entertainment companies, owning networks such as HBO and CNN. By combining, these two companies would create a media conglomerate with the incentive and ability to harm competitors, and as a result, consumers.  

As a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Cantwell has worked hard to be an advocate for consumers. Most recently, she led the charge in pushing the FCC to adopt strong Net Neutrality rules to keep the internet free and open. Cantwell has also been outspoken in questioning mergers in the airline, media, and cable industries, wary of their effects on prices and choice among the public.

The letter, which can be found here, was led by Sen. Franken (D-MN) and signed by Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patty Murray(D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), in addition to Cantwell.