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AT&T Has Made A Deal To Buy Time Warner — Will Washington Let Them?

Barry C. LynnandLina Khan were quoted in BuzzFeed News about AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner:

Having the cable company own the cable channels raises competition questions, and for those opposed to the consolidation of the media and communications industries, Washington’s approval of that deal — immortalized by 30 Rock as the Kabletown merger — was a major failure of the Obama administration.

“Distribution companies and content companies should not be allowed to merge,” Barry Lynn, a senior fellow at the progressive New America Foundation, told BuzzFeed News. “AT&T would never have dared propose this deal had the Obama Administration not erred fantastically in approving the Comcast takeover of NBC/Universal.”

Comcast raised similar concerns when it bought a media business, but AT&T adds the America’s second-largest mobile network, with 132 million subscribers, into the equation. So far, cellphone operators have made small moves into online and video content — Verizon bought AOL, and has agreed to buy Yahoo — but Time Warner would dwarf all that, and competitors could feel pressure to match it.

“What approving this deal would do is “cable-ize” the telecom industry. It would effectively require that a carrier own content. This would normalize a form of bundling that raises anti-competitive concerns,” said Lina Khan, a fellow at New America.

“If competition authorities wanted to keep the market open to smaller phone companies and smaller content companies, they would find a way to block this deal.”