Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to block AT&T’s move to buy entertainment group Time Warner for nearly USD 86 billion, saying deals like these amounted to “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”
Trying to turn the massive media deal into a campaign issue, the controversial Republican nominee 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.”
During a campaign speech yesterday in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Trump also said that if he is elected, his administration would look at breaking up the 2011 merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal.
Trump’s comments have shocked some regulatory experts.
Any merger would have to be reviewed and approved by US federal antitrust regulators.
Republicans are usually supportive of mergers and acquisitions while Democrats are generally more skeptical.
But Trump’s pledge to block the possible AT&T-Time Warner (TWX) transaction breaks with precedent and places him far to the left of President Barack Obama, whose administration approved the Comcast (CCV) deal with numerous conditions, CNN reported.
Trump’s comments came in the context of an anti-media tirade.
“It is wholly inappropriate for a president (or a candidate) to tell the attorney general how to decide a case before the Justice Department has a chance to make a recommendation,” Andrew Jay Schwartzman, an attorney who specializes in telecommunications and media policy, said.
The Republican nominee has been fiercely critical of what he says is biased news coverage of his campaign by the American news outlets.
Yesterday, he said “they’re trying desperately to suppress my vote and the voice of the American people.”
So he took aim at the companies, channeling a media critique made by Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary.
First he blasted the potential AT&T-Time Warner deal, which was met with applause by his supporters.
Then he complained about Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) and the owner of the Washington Post.
Trump wrongly said that Amazon “through its ownership controls the Washington Post.”
In fact, Bezos owns the Post separately from his role at Amazon, though some partnerships between the two entities have been forged.
Maybe not coincidentally, Bezos slammed Trump earlier this week, accusing him of “eroding our democracy.”