Feb 17, 2017

AT&T and Time Warner defend deal to Democrats

Mike Mozart / Flickr Creative Commons

AT&T is trying to reassure Democrats skeptical of its proposed purchase of content powerhouse Time Warner.

The setup: In January, a group of 13 Democratic senators told the CEOs of both companies that because they will likely not face an FCC merger review they "will no longer have the legal burden of proving that the proposal would serve the public interest, and the public is left largely in the dark about how the deal would impact the affordability and quality of their phone, internet, and video services."

So they asked the companies to provide them with details on the public interest value of the deal by Friday. Here's the response::

  • Executives from both companies said that "this deal will increase competition and accelerate the innovation/investment cycle, all to the benefit of American consumers," according to excerpts provided by AT&T. It did not provide the full letter.
  • They defended the value of a Justice Department review for the deal, saying that "the competitive questions raised in your letter are precisely the issues under review by the Department of Justice, which Congress has entrusted with protecting competitive markets."
  • The letter reiterated the telco's argument that it would not be in its interest to keep Time Warner's content out of the hands of its competitors. The senators had expressed concerns that the deal could hurt competition.

What we're watching: A key antitrust official at the Department of Justice has yet to be named, but will send a signal about how the Trump administration plans to approach the issue. The president previously opposed the deal on the campaign trail.

Go deeper

Updates: Cities move to end curfews for George Floyd protests

Text reading "Demilitarize the police" is projected on an army vehicle during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C.. early on Thursday. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several cities are ending curfews after the protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people led to fewer arrests and less violence Wednesday night.

The latest: Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are the latest to end nightly curfews. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted Wednesday night that "peaceful protests can continue without a curfew, while San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted that the city's curfew would end at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Murkowski calls Mattis' Trump criticism "true and honest and necessary and overdue"

Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Thursday that she agreed with former Defense Secretary James Mattis' criticism of President Trump, calling it "true and honest and necessary and overdue."

Why it matters: Murkowski, who has signaled her discomfort with the president in the past, also said that she's "struggling" with her support for him in November — a rare full-on rebuke of Trump from a Senate Republican.

Facebook to block ads from state-controlled media entities in the U.S.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook said Thursday it will begin blocking state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the U.S. this summer. It's also rolling out a new set of labels to provide users with transparency around ads and posts from state-controlled outlets. Outlets that feel wrongly labeled can appeal the process.

Why it matters: Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, says the company hasn't seen many examples yet of foreign governments using advertising to promote manipulative content to U.S. users, but that the platform is taking this action out of an abundance of caution ahead of the 2020 election.