White House is openly threatening to impose selective regulatory enforcement to block the merger.
Time Warner and AT&T are in the process of merging; the merger still needs to be approved. It looks like there could be a snag – Time Warner is the parent company of CNN. The issue is not economical, nor is it anti-trust. The issue is that Trump is angry with CNN, and he could put a stop to the merger out of spite.
In the past, the parties involved had to comply with certain agreements to prevent any anti-competitive behavior. The Justice Department can also bring legal proceedings to prevent a merger like it did with Aetna and Humana. This same situation is looming over Time Warner.
Regrettably, the threat to the merger comes not from economic or anti-competitive concerns, but from a petty, insecure, and obviously angry Trump.
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to block the merger, “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” This would be great – if it were true. New York Magazine reported that Trump is comfortable with media consolidation, when the mergers include pro-Trump media. For example, earlier this year the FCC relaxed the rule over how many stations an owner may have. After this happened, Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased Tribune Media giving them enough stations to reach 70% of the USA. (Sinclair Broadcast is owned by a large GOP donor)
As printed in the New York Magazine: The White House is openly threatening to punish a (barely) adversarial outlet through selective regulatory enforcement.