AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson spoke at a Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing today about his company’s proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner and denied that the merger will bring any harm to customers or competitors.
Senators and witnesses at the hearing said AT&T and Time Warner combined might restrict valuable programming such as HBO to AT&T’s TV services or charge rival TV providers a higher price to carry it. They also discussed AT&T’s zero-rating, which exempts the company’s own video content from mobile data caps while requiring online video providers to pay for the same data cap exemptions.
Merger concerns boil down to AT&T controlling both distribution and video content instead of one or the other. AT&T is already one of the country’s largest providers of home and mobile Internet service, and it’s the largest cable or satellite TV provider thanks to its acquisition of DirecTV last year. AT&T controls distribution of video by operating these Internet and TV services.
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