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

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

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

But, according to the Wall Street Journal, he did challenge the idea that the DOJ rarely sees a problem with "vertical mergers", the type of deal that AT&T is seeking with Time Warner.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement, "I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so". "We are prepared to litigate now", Stephenson told CNBC on the sidelines of the New York Times Dealbook conference. In light of Trump's frequent critiques of CNN, the move raised questions about Trump's possible political interference in what is supposed to be an impartial economic analysis. Then he added: "I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can - especially since so many are fake".

The head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, said in a statement late on Thursday that he has "never been instructed by the White House" on the AT&T deal.

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Shares of Time Warner were down almost 1 percent in afternoon trading at $87.85. He said the company had been ready to go to court the day the deal was announced. AT&T shares rose 1.6 percent to $33.97. Obama-era regulators in 2011 approved a similar media merger, cable company Comcast's purchase of NBCUniversal, after Comcast agreed to a slew of business requirements.

AT&T has argued against selling off either company's assets, as it believes this would undercut the rationale for the tie-up. Requiring AT&T to sell either Turner or DirecTV would be in line with Delrahim's thinking. Other outlets reported that the Trump administration had demanded the sale. Several Democratic lawmakers have also pushed back against the combination.

In 2014, Twenty-First Century Fox proposed buying Time Warner for $80bn. The Department of Justice said it does not comment on pending investigations, but that it was "committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts". "Beyond that, the Department does not comment on any pending investigation".

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