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AT&T CEO says blackout ban shows company willing to settle DOJ fight

(Reuters) – AT&T Inc’s (T.N) proposed seven-year ban on programming blackouts to vendors of a few Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) content material shows that the company is willing to be offering concessions to shut its $85.four billion bid for the programmer, AT&T’s leader govt officer mentioned on Wednesday.

Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Randall Stephenson speaks all through a moderated dialogue earlier than the Economic Club of New York, in New York City, U.S., November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The U.S. Department of Justice ultimate week sued AT&T to block its deliberate acquisition of Time Warner, pronouncing the mix may lift costs for opponents and pay-TV subscribers whilst hampering the improvement of on-line video.

“We’re prepared to make concessions,” AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, mentioned at an Economic Club of New York luncheon. “What we put in the filing is a concession.”

AT&T and Time Warner mentioned in a submitting on Tuesday that Time Warner’s Turner unit had presented its vendors licensing phrases that forbid Turner from “going dark” on any distributor for seven years after the deal closes in the event that they have been to achieve an deadlock in negotiations. Blackouts are regarded as to be a negotiating device in carriage disputes between vendors and programmers.

Sources informed Reuters previous this month that the Justice Department had demanded important asset gross sales so as to approve the deal and that it requested AT&T to promote both CNN-parent Turner or AT&T’s DirecTV industry.

Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Randall Stephenson speaks all through a moderated dialogue earlier than the Economic Club of New York, in New York City, U.S., November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, mentioned in a analysis observe on Wednesday that AT&T’s be offering to ban blackouts made it “reasonably likely” that the deal could be licensed. He mentioned it could be arduous for the Justice Department to argue that this sort of dedication didn’t cope with its fear that AT&T would lift the charges it fees for Time Warner content material to rival pay-TV firms.

“By agreeing to forgo the option of ‘going dark,’ AT&T has effectively agreed to abandon what would otherwise be their only real source of leverage in a negotiation,” Moffett wrote.

Shares of AT&T rose 2.eight % to $36.39 in afternoon buying and selling whilst Time Warner stocks rose 1.three % to $90.82.

Stephenson additionally mentioned on the Economic Club lunch that AT&T’s asked trial date of Feb. 20 used to be a “reasonable ask.” The executive asked that the trial get started on May 7, in accordance to court docket filings.

AT&T mentioned in a separate submitting with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday that it could prolong the termination date of the Time Warner deal to April 22.

Additional reporting by means of Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by means of Leslie Adler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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