Mar 5, 2019

AT&T shakes up WarnerMedia amid merger drama

AT&T office in New York. Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Just days after AT&T finally defeated the government's months-long effort to thwart its merger with Time Warner, the Texas-based phone company announced plans on Monday to restructure its newly acquired media assets to make it more competitive in today's tech-driven media environment.

The big picture: It comes as a New Yorker report alleges President Trump abused his power by ordering his then-chief of staff John Kelly and then-chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to ensure that the DOJ sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal. (Democratic lawmakers are now crying foul.)

Why it matters: This has been one of the most dramatic mergers in recent history. A controversial deal approval process combined with a drastic shakeup at WarnerMedia shows just how bitter corporate and real-world politics can get.

Details: The overhaul is meant to streamline efforts across WarnerMedia, which will allow it to more efficiently scale its content offerings and bolster its new steaming media service, a product that it hopes will one day compete with the likes of Netflix.

  • John Stankey, a longtime AT&T executive who is now CEO of WarnerMedia, has overseen the changes, which resulted in the surprise exits of longtime HBO and Turner bosses Richard Plepler and David Levy, respectively.
  • Bob Greenblatt, longtime NBC and Showtime exec, has been brought in to oversee WarnerMedia's entertainment and direct-to-consumer division, which will include newly acquired cable networks, like TNT and TBS, as well as WarnerMedia's premium cable channel HBO.
  • Jeff Zucker, who will continue his role as president of CNN, will now oversee WarnerMedia's News & Sports division, which includes CNN, as well as Turner Sports and Bleacher Report.
  • Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros. CEO, will expand his portfolio to oversee WarnerMedia's Global Kids and Young Adults division, which includes assets like Adult Swim and Cartoon Network.

Be smart: AT&T says the restructuring is about creating more content, not cutting costs, but it's hard to imagine that a deal this big wouldn't result in any synergies.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the biggest cuts will take place at Turner, which accounted for much of Time Warner's operating income.

Go deeper: AT&T defeats Justice Department bid to overturn Time Warner deal

Go deeper

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.