Justice Department approaches states to block AT&T-Time Warner deal: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department has approached state attorneys general in a bid to block telecommunications powerhouse AT&T Inc’s $85.4 billion deal to buy media and entertainment company Time Warner Inc, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Justice Department already has convinced a few state attorneys general to sign on to a complaint seeking to block the deal, CNBC reported, citing sources.

The deal, announced in October 2016, has faced an antitrust review that has stretched more than a year and has become a political flashpoint because of Republican President Donald Trump’s vow as a candidate to block the deal and his repeated criticism of the CNN, owned by Time Warner.

Trump, just back from a trip to Asia, attacked the news network again on Wednesday morning, writing on Twitter: “While in the Philippines I was forced to watch @CNN, which I have not done in months, and again realized how bad, and FAKE, it is. Loser!”

AT&T’s share price was up slightly on Wednesday at $33.88 while Time Warner slipped about half a percent to trade at $87.00 in mid-morning trading.

AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier and a major pay-TV provider, and Time Warner, which also owns the premium channel HBO and film studio Warner Bros, have struggled to keep viewers who have been flocking to online services like Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video.



(Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz in Washington and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Will Dunham)