The proposed sale of Time Warner to AT&T was thrown an unexpected curve ball November 8th when the US Department of Justice (DoJ), in its report on the deal, said that it would block the $85 billion scheme unless it sells off CNN.
The DoJ is understood to have said that AT&T would either have to divest itself of the Turner Broadcasting division (which includes CNN and the Cartoon Network suite of channels) or sell off its recently acquired DirecTV DTH business.
AT&T Chairman/CEO Randall Stephenson reportedly commented that the company – in its submissions – never offered to sell CNN and has no intention of doing so to win approval of the Time Warner deal. Instead, AT&T would fight the DoJ ruling through the courts. “Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so,” he said.
John Stephens, AT&T’s CFO, speaking at a New York business conference on November 7th, that the date to finalise the merger was now “uncertain” because of ongoing negotiations with the government authorities.