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Jeff Bewkes: Trump Doesn’t Impact AT&T-Time Warner Deal

Variety logo Variety 5/31/2017 Andrew Wallenstein
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Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes nixed the notion that Donald Trump in the White House could complicate the fate of the $85.4 billion deal pending between his company and AT&T.

“I don’t think who’s occupying the White House changes things,” he said Wednesday at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “We’re not particularly thinking that’s a significant fact.”

The proposed merger is slated for review by the Department of Justice. Trump, who prior to his presidency had made comments critical of the merger, nominated Makan Delrahim earlier this year to head DOJ’s antitrust division. But Delrahim is not considered to be an opponent of the AT&T-Time Warner deal.

But Bewkes feels the pact will move forward on its own merits. “We don’t think merger in a competitive industry analysis is particularly political,” he said. “DOJ has a pretty clear set of precedents and laws to follow.”

Bewkes also defended Time Warner-owned CNN from criticism that the network played a role in getting Trump elected by giving the candidate too much airtime during his campaign. He explained that many of the 16 Republican candidates during the primary often declined to come on CNN while Trump was always eager to get on TV.

Said Bewkes, “As we look at what went on, you had unpredictable outcomes and we were simply trying to cover it.”

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