Cantwell Joins Coalition of Senators Pressuring Justice Department to Reject AT&T-Time Warner Merger if Harms to Consumers Outweigh Benefits

Senators Fear Massive $85 Billion Media Deal Would Lead to Higher Bills, Fewer Choices, Poorer Quality Service

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a group of 11 Senate Democrats calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reject AT&T’s massive $85 billion bid to acquire Time Warner should it determine that American consumers will be harmed overall by the deal.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Senators made the case that allowing this proposed merger to move forward—in what would be yet another instance of consolidation in the already highly concentrated pay-TV and media industries—will result in higher TV and internet prices, fewer choices, and worse service. The group also argued that if federal regulators put strict “conditions” on the deal as a compromise, they would be insufficient in addressing all the ways the mega media conglomerate could restrict access to diverse television programming and premium channels like HBO, raise monthly bills for consumers, and violate the principles of net neutrality.

“While we cannot possibly predict all the harms that could arise from this deal, we maintain that AT&T'S proposed acquisition of Time Warner would result in higher prices, fewer choices, and worse service for consumers,” the Senators wrote. “We hope you'll take a stand for U.S. consumers and businesses and closely scrutinize the transaction. Should you determine that the substantial harms arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits, we urge you to reject it.”

In addition to Sen. Cantwell, today’s letter to the attorney general was signed by Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

AT&T is the second largest mobile broadband provider and one of the nation’s leading content distributors after having purchased DIRECTV just two years ago. 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 ultimately consumers.

Senator Cantwell, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, has long fought against consolidation in the media market. In June 2017, she called for scrutiny of the Sinclair-Tribune Broadcasting Deal. In March 2013, Cantwell voiced her support for pursuing a Resolution of Disapproval against the FCC if its media ownership rules encouraged further media consolidation. In November 2012, Cantwell called for a public vote on the FCC media ownership rules that could increase media consolidation.

You can read the full text of today’s letter by clicking here.