T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Attacked as FCC Restarts Shot Clock

The FCC restarted the shot clock Tuesday on its vetting of the T-Mobile-Sprint deal just in time to face some new blowback. The review is now on day 55.

The informal 180-day clock was stopped last month after the companies provided new economic info to the FCC—pausing the clock is not an unusual move in merger reviews and is usually the case when the FCC is getting supplemental information.

The blowback came from Protect America's Wireless, a group promoting national security in response to foreign infiltration of U.S. networks.

It has tied the merger to the issue of the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi because UK-based SoftBank Capital will have 27% of the combined company and Saudi Arabia has invested billions in SoftBank's tech-focused Vision Fund.

On Tuesday, after a CIA briefing with legislators on Khashoggi's killing and Saudi Arabia's role, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in response to the Trump Administration's assertion that there was not a smoking gun, that perhaps not, but there was a "smoking saw," a reference to the tool used to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed.

"If Sprint CEO, Michel Combes, and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son do not condemn this murder and refuse to take Saudi investment then they are willfully blind to the human rights atrocities of the Kingdom and more interested in profits than national security," said Protect America's Wireless.

"Without verifiable proof that SoftBank has kicked MBS to the curb, for the sake of the nation’s security, the merger must not be allowed to continue," the group said. 

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.