AT&T CEO: DOJ never demanded CNN sale in Time Warner deal

AT&T may have to dump CNN to get Time Warner deal approved

AT&T may have to dump CNN to get Time Warner deal approved

Murdoch, 86, phoned AT&T chief Randall Stephenson on May 16 and again on August 8, both times asking if CNN was for sale, according to one source.

Another source, however, told Reuters that Murdoch has "zero interest" in acquiring CNN.

In February, President Donald Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner told an executive at CNN's parent company Time Warner that they should fire 20 percent of the cable news agency's staff.

If the companies had stuck a deal, Fox had planned to sell CNN - which competes directly with Fox News - to avoid antitrust issues.

A White House official said Kushner didn't intend for the comment to be taken seriously and was only trying to make a point, according to the Journal, which reported that the remark "wasn't taken lightly" inside Time Warner.

The DOJ's hardline approach to AT&T - belying the business-friendly image of the Trump administration - has spurred questions about Trump's personal interest in the deal, given his feelings about CNN's coverage of his presidency. The CEO said he'd received calls about selling CNN.

AT&T wants to buy Time Warner, which owns the premium channel HBO and movie studio Warner Bros along with Turner Broadcasting, so it can bundle mobile service with video entertainment and take online advertising from Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc. He has not commented on the transaction since taking office in January.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah denied that Trump had discussed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions the potential sale of CNN as a condition of the proposed merger. In the first major test of its approach to merger reviews in the Trump era, the Justice Department has pushed back against AT&T Inc.'s $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc., throwing the deal into jeopardy. Last year, before he was nominated by Trump to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division, Delrahim said AT&T's deal "would have an easier route toward approval than a merger of two competitors". Stephenson, however, made it clear that AT&T was prepared to fight attempts to block the deal. But the company abandoned the plan in the face of Time Warner's resistance, Reuters said.

According to the report, Ginsberg rejected Kushner's suggestion, as "there was no scenario under which Time Warner would do that, one of the people familiar with the matter said".

"By immediately lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, this bill will stimulate investment, job creation and economic growth in the United States", said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chief executive. Sprint Corp. and Altice, the cable company, have both considered bids for the cable giant Charter Communications Inc.

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