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Tim Kaine Voices Concern Over AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Tim Kaine is the latest to weigh in on AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner, with the Democratic vice presidential candidate saying that regulators will have to “get to the bottom” of whether or not the deal would decrease competition in the marketplace.

“I share those concerns and questions,” Kaine told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of them. Less concentration, I think, is generally helpful, especially in the media.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has not yet commented herself on the proposed merger, but has in the past encouraged heavy regulatory scrutiny of such major deals. Clinton’s campaign has outlined an antitrust policy that will increase resources and staffing at antitrust agencies “so they have the bandwidth for research, review and aggressive enforcement.”

“In contrast to the highly permissive approach of the Reagan era, she believes we should make sure that mergers and acquisitions do not excessively concentrate market power, and undermine consumers, suppliers, workers, and small businesses through higher prices, reduced choice and other harms,” her campaign policy says.

She also is calling for agencies to conduct “post-merger monitoring and retrospective analyses” to measure their impact on competition, prices and other factors.

Kaine is only the latest to comment on the proposed merger. At a rally on Saturday, Republican nominee Donald Trump criticized the deal, saying his administration would block it should he win the Nov. 8 election.

“It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said, also accusing the media of being biased against his campaign.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) also said it “raises some immediate flags about consolidation in the media market.” If the deal goes through, it would combine AT&T’s cable and internet services with Time Warner media brands such as HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros.

AT&T and Time Warner have said that regulators should complete their review of the deal in 2017, leaving it in the hands of Congress and the new administration.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said that the proposed merger “would potentially raise significant antitrust issues, which the subcommittee would carefully examine.”

 

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