Will the U.S. Approve AT&T + Time Warner?

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
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That walled garden looks conceivable … sort of.  Not tomorrow, but perhaps down the road a couple of years. Which brings up the question of the day: Is Jeff Bewkes the reincarnation of Jerry Levin who lost the bet big time to Steve Case?  Or will that be Randall Stephenson?  And only $84.5 billion! And the second question of the day: Will the impending marriage of AT&T (really, the ghost of Southwestern Bell with a name change to get the ticker symbol “T”) to Time Warner be a step on the accelerator toward a new world of content and conduit exclusivity -- umm, or a shift back to the pre-Internet days of AOL, Compuserv and Prodigy before they got religion about the World Wide Web?

That’s a big maybe.  The Internet broke the walled garden open. But today there are lots of little indicators that the walls are going back up as content exclusive to one conduit is on the march.  Decisions such as the streaming of music by Garth Brooks being limited to Amazon Prime subs.  (OK, cue the friends-in-low-places jokes.)  Or any of the other growing exclusivity deals as the once Big Four (okay, maybe 3¾) make more and more decisions revolving around the idea of “mine”!  They are, of course, following the actions of the OTT rulers like Netflix and Hulu and that pre-Internet past.

Will CBS + Viacom = CBS?

Will AT&T + TW = AT&T2?

Which is simply trying to match: Comcast + NBC = Comcastic2.

So here’s the next question: Will the newly proposed combo clear government scrutiny? (It’s a moot point if the guy with weird hair wins, as he says “he” would block it.) Will the rejoining of Viacom to CBS clear government scrutiny?

My answer for both: Probably … because we’ve already got a government-approved example in the reality of a greater Comcast2 … now the second biggest distributor of video behind the current AT&T (with U-verse and DirecTV).

But, given an election year and the almost certainty that neither the Justice Department nor the Federal Confusion Commission will act before January 20, 2017, a new administration will be calling most of the shots … one way or the other.

And if that new administration were to deny such an acquisition, would that signal that it would go after Comcast in order to break it up?  Just asking.

Random Notes

AOL + TW = Disaster, in the past tense.  Just for the record, Dick Parsons and Jeff Bewkes spent years making sense of that disaster.  So, in this case, I think Bewkes is Case … the one with the winning hand, for now.

Another salient question: Will Dr. John Malone, perhaps via Charter, make a better bid?  Wouldn’t surprise me at all … and then, there’s the biggest kahuna in the world … Liberty Global/Ventures/Media et al!

But to think about something even more imminent, which real media company might back TrumpTV? Don’t giggle; in the new fact-less universe, anything is possible!

Another aspect of AT&T+TW is that the greater media eco-system’s new reality -- that is, no more silos, maybe -- continues to evolve at an ever-faster acceleration.

By the way, the 2 represents “squared” … that is, the resulting company with the squared sign has significant assets in both conduit (the infrastructure whether wired, fiber, satellite or wireless) and content.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet, Inc. management or associated bloggers.


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