Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is touting the strategy behind AT&T's purchase of Time Warner (which closed Thursday night) and noting the increasing importance of premium content and consumer engagement with online platforms — things Silicon Valley giants have done very well.

The big picture: Traditional media and telecom companies are aggressively pursuing vertically integrated strategies to go head-to-head with tech giants that are starting to dominate both creation and distribution of popular content. With its new Time Warner properties, Stephenson said in a CNBC interview Friday that AT&T is well positioned to take on competitors — and previewed some of the bundled content plays the company is rolling out.

"Oh my, we're building out all new forms of distribution. I mean, 5G is coming. There's going to be opportunities to distribute premium video like we've never imaged. We actually believed at the time that premium video was a great place to invest and to be and the tech companies are just demonstrating that to us."
— AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson

On the battle over 21st Century Fox, he said Comcast and Disney both have "logical reasons" for wanting to acquire the assets. "They're not much different than ours," he said. "I mean, what do you want? You want extensive direct-to-consumer relationships....I think what they're doing and what they're pursuing just reinforces a play we're running. We think they're on the right path and we want to get their first."

On the possibility of Trump administration appeal or "retribution," Stephenson he's not concerned and praised many of Trump's policies, particularly tax reform. "We are a country ruled by laws," he said.

On what consumers will notice as a result of the merger, he pointed to a mobile-focused strategy with the launch of a "very, very skinny bundle" called AT&T Watch TV, which will deliver Time Warner content (without sports) to AT&T's mobile customers and will launch next week. He also teased the launch of a significant advertising platform and smaller acquisitions in the "coming weeks."

On culture clash: John Stankey, Stephenson's lieutenant who is taking over the Time Warner companies, dismissed concerns that the culture at the buttoned-up telco would clash with Time Warner's more creative culture.

  • He told CNN's Brian Stelter and Hadas Gold that "my job is to ensure that the differences don't become a problem, but become a benefit" and that AT&T doesn't "want to get in the way of what these companies do really well already."

Go deeper

Resurrecting Martin Luther King's office

King points to Selma, Alabama on a map at his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in Atlanta in January 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Contributor

Efforts to save the office where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., planned some of the most important moments of the civil rights movement are hitting roadblocks amid a political stalemate.

Why it matters: The U.S. Park Service needs to OK agreements so a developer restoring the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta — which once housed King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference — can tap into private funding and begin work.

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.