AT&T, Time Warner Pledge Continued CNN Independence

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes have pledged that threats by President-elect Donald Trump to block their proposed merger related to CNN's coverage would not affect that coverage given that they will be trying to get the deal through the Trump Justice Department.

That came at a Senate Antitrust Subcommittee oversight hearing Wednesday on the deal.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) called it abhorrent that there would be a threat of differential treatment of the deal due to CNN's coverage of the President-elect's campaign and asked for assurances that would not lead to any changes in CNN's coverage.

Blumenthal said he might agree with Trump's opposition to the deal as too much concentration. "Donald Trump says he is going to block this merger and I take him at his word," he said.

But the suggestion that public officials would use the blunt instrument of a deal review to silence news was both "absolutely abhorrent" and a threat to free speech.

As to committing that news coverage would not be influenced in any way by that threat, Bewkes said yes and Stephenson "yes, of course."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.