CEO Defends $43B WarnerMedia-Discovery Merger

    • AT&T CEO John Stankey said that Democratic lawmaker concerns over the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger were "unfounded."
    • Members of Congress wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for an investigation into the deal.

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A major consolidation in the media world could be at risk if the Department of Justice heeds the call of Democratic lawmakers, but the executives behind the deal appear unconcerned.

AT&T CEO John Stankey said that Congress members’ fears of reduced competition for media workers, particularly among Hispanics, was “unfounded.” Discovery CEO David Zaslav has also brushed off concerns that the merger would stifle competition.

AT&T currently owns WarnerMedia but is seeking to spin it off to focus on 5G and telecommunications.

Speaking at UBS’s Global TMT Conference on Monday, Stankey added that “I’ve seen nothing in this process that is out of pattern or out of skew,” and that he is confident in AT&T “navigating through that.”

  • The $43 billion merger of the two media giants would bring WarnerMedia’s CNN, Warner Bros., HBO, Turner Sports, TNT, and TBS under the same roof as Discovery’s Food Network, HGTV, Eurosport, and others. 
  • Discovery could add UK Premier League broadcasts to its menu if it successfully usurps DAZN in a deal with BT Sport.
  • Discovery holds European rights to the Olympic Games from 2018 to 2024 in a $1.5 billion deal.

The lawmakers, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), and Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) wrote, “The merger threatens to enhance the market power of the combined firm and substantially lessen competition in the media and entertainment industry, harming both consumers and American workers.”