Senate Democrats want AT&T to prove to them that the benefits of the $85 billion merger will outweigh any harms to consumers.
Why? Typically, this kind of merger goes through an FCC review, during which the merging companies demonstrate how the deal will serve the "public interest." In this case, AT&T and Time Warner have opted not to transfer spectrum licenses, thereby skirting the FCC's review process. So Senators including Bernie Sander, Ed Markey, Al Franken, Ron Wyden, Patrick Leahy and Cory Booker — who are generally skeptical of industry consolidation — are trying to fill that void. They said:
AT&T is already the world's largest pay-TV provider and the largest telecommunications company. Combining it with one of the world's largest producers of content gives AT&T-Time Warner both the incentive and the ability to use its platform to harm competitors, and as a result, consumers.
AT&T says: "The merger will create more competition for cable TV providers, giving consumers more options and accelerating next generation wireless broadband."
Of note: AT&T also said it's handing over "millions of documents" as part of the DoJ's antitrust review of the deal. However, most documents in that process aren't made public.