WASHINGTON — Representatives from Tea Party Patriots, Frontiers of Freedom, and other conservative groups are criticizing AT&T’s proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner, joining a number of consumer organizations in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“We are deeply concerned that allowing these firms to join forces — without significant conditions that fully address all competitive concerns — would intolerably limit consumers’ control over what they watch and where they get their information,” the groups said in a letter, posted on the website of the public interest group Public Knowledge on Thursday.
“The First Amendment is the bulwark of political discourse, and the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger will necessarily further restrict the diversity of speech which strengthens our nation as it becomes in the new company’s interest to promote select channels over alternative outlets,” the letter continued.
The merger is currently under review by the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, and a decision is expected by the end of the year.
Although President Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that he opposed the transaction, arguing that there was too much concentration of the media, he has said little since then. Instead, there has been expectation on Wall Street that the deal will be approved, in part because it is a vertical merger that makes it more difficult for the federal government to mount a legal antitrust challenge.
Also signing the letter were representatives from the American Family Association, Americans for Limited Government, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Writers Guild of America West.
“At this time, where giant media companies are aggressively seeking to consolidate, our antitrust laws have rarely been a more potent and needed defender of American consumers of all stripes and ideologies,” they wrote.
A spokesman for AT&T said in a statement, “We have consistently demonstrated how this transaction will benefit consumers. We look forward to closing the transaction by year-end so that we can bring consumers these benefits, including greater competition and innovative services.”