US Regulators Order AT&T to Sell CNN


US regulators have reportedly informed AT&T that it must sell the CNN news channel in order for its $84.5bn (£65bn) acquisition of Time Warner to push through.

According to CNBC and The Financial Times, during “active discussions,” AT&T was informed by the United States Department of Justice that it needs to sell the Turner Broadcasting operations of Time Warner, which includes the CNN channel, in order to receive approval for the deal.

However, reports said that the hold-up was “all about CNN,” citing sources. It is thought that AT&T is resisting the sale.

The news arrives just hours after John Stevens, the chief financial officer of AT&T, warned on an investor call that he could “say that the timing of the closing of the deal is now uncertain.”

The deal had been anticipated to close by the end of this year. Stevens did not give more details regarding why it may now be facing setbacks.

The demands thought to be being produced of AT&T follow the vocal opposition by President Donald Trump to the acquisition.

During the presidential campaign in 2016, he pledged to block the deal, saying that it would create too huge an organisation. Since then, Trump has accused CNN repeatedly of distributing fake news.

However, it would, represent a change in position by Makan Delrahim, the head of the antitrust division of the justice department, who before taking office said that he did not “see [the deal] as a major antitrust problem.”

AT&T refused to comment regarding the matter. The US Department of Justice and Time Warner did not immediately respond to requests for comment either.