Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has come out against the AT&T and Time Warner deal and also said if he wins the US election, his administration would examine another media mega merger, that of Comcast and NBCUniversal.
Trump has taken issue with mainstream media throughout his campaign, with the attacks becoming more frequent and trenchant in recent days, leading to speculation he could seek to launch his own OTT or cable news net.
The Republican nominee immediately came out against AT&T’s US$85 billion deal for Time Warner. In a speech over the weekend, given ahead of official confirmation of the deal, he said: “As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”
A spokesman for Democrat candidate Hilary Clinton told US press there were questions and concerns over AT&T/Time Warner, but more needs to be known before a decision is made whether to back or oppose the deal.
In his weekend address, Trump added that his administration would also examine the possibility of breaking up the Comcast/NBCUniversal operation, which was previously greenlit by regulators and has seen the two fully combined over the past five years.
“Additionally, Comcast’s purchase of NBC concentrates far too much power in one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do,” Trump said. “Deals like this destroy democracy, and we’ll look at breaking that deal up and other deals like that.”
He added: “This should never, ever have been approved in the first place.”
Commentators immediately noted one of Trump’s issues with Time Warner is that it owns cable news net CNN, which has been the subject of his media attacks. NBCU doesn’t have an international news net, but does own the NBC broadcast channel that used to run The Apprentice, which featured Trump.
The broadcaster said last year, before Trump became the Republican’s presidential candidate, that it would stop working with Trump after he made controversial comments about Mexican immigrants.