FCC's Pai: DOJ Will Do Right Thing With AT&T-TW

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that he thinks the Justice Department will "do the right thing" when it comes to the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger.

Justice is said to be pushing for a spin-off of either AT&T's DirecTV or Time Warner's Turner assets--which includes TBS, TNT and CNN--to approve the deal, while AT&T says it will see DOJ in court if that is the case.

In an appearance on Fox Business Network's The Intelligence Report with Trish Regan Friday (Nov. 10). Pai was asked about the reported DOJ demand for a CNN spin-off, Pai harkened back to his own days at Justice's antitrust division.

"I can say that I think the professionals at the department are going to do the right thing according to law and the facts, and we’ll see where that takes us… I think the good news is there’s leadership of the Antitrust Division and on the career staff level that are going to review this very carefully. And I think they’ll reach the right results."

They have ostensibly already been reviewing it for some time, since reports were they were close to a decision, which AT&T could force by signaling it plans to close the deal and see what happens--Justice could seek to continue negotiating conditions, or approve the deal as is, or file suit to block it unless AT&T agrees to conditions, or file suit concluding no conditions would bring it into compliance.

Related: FCC Mediating AT&T Redlining Complaint

Pai was asked about the suggestion the CNN spin-off was part of what some see as the President's vendetta against the news network, which he has dismissed as fake news.

"There has been a lot of discussion about it but I try to stick within my lane," he said. The deal isn't traveling in the FCC's lane since it was structured to avoid an FCC public interest review.

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.