POLITICS

Bernie Sanders Slams AT&T-Time Warner Merger

It eliminates competition and threatens democracy, he said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) laid out his disapproval of the merger between AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc. in a feisty letter addressed to Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata B. Hesse on Wednesday.

“This proposed merger is just the latest effort to shrink our media landscape, stifle competition and diversity of content, and provide consumers with less while charging them more,” he wrote in Medium. He asked Hesse to enforce antitrust laws and block the merger.

AT&T announced over the weekend that it had agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion ― the biggest deal in the world this year ― in an effort to combine the former’s high-speed network with the latter’s viewing content. 

The deal has major consequences for democracy, Sanders added, since one company will now have control over a wide range of brands.

“Our democracy thrives when there is a diversity of viewpoints, and when citizens have unlimited access to information,” he wrote. “This merger represents a gross concentration of power that runs counter to the public good and should be blocked.”

Sanders quoted critics, like nonprofit Public Citizen, to bolster his claim that one company controlling so much power is never a good thing. Competition is stifled, he argued, and it becomes more challenging for new players to enter the market.

Other major telecommunications companies have already made similar moves. Comcast purchased NBCUniversal in 2011. Verizon Communications Inc. bought AOL, The Huffington Post’s parent company, in 2015 and is in the process of acquiring Yahoo Inc. for about $4.8 billion.

Sanders then explained how the merger would affect the average consumer. “This deal would almost certainly lead to price hikes and reduced choice,” he wrote.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also has demanded that the merger be blocked.

“It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said at a rally on Saturday.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton took a much more muted position on the merger. “I am going to follow it closely, and obviously if I am fortunate enough to be president, I will expect the government to conduct a very thorough analysis before making a decision,” she said.

This post has been updated with comment from Clinton.

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