NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — AT&T Inc. announced on Thursday evening that it had completed its acquisition of Time Warner Inc., bringing media brands such as Warner Bros., CNN, HBO and Turner under one telecom roof.
“The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T’s strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience,” said Randall Stephenson, chairman, and CEO of AT&T Inc. “We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors, and advertisers.”
Following the acquisition, AT&T said they would establish a new name for their newly conglomerated media business at a later time.
Jeff Bewkes, former chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc., has agreed to remain with the company as a senior advisor during a transition period.
“Jeff is an outstanding leader and one of the most accomplished CEOs around. He and his team have built a global leader in media and entertainment. And I greatly appreciate his continued counsel,” Stephenson said.
John Stankey, who previously helmed AT&T’s entertainment unit, will serve as the new head CEO of AT&T’s yet-to-be-named media business.
The acquisition gives AT&T unprecedented influence over the media landscape. AT&T provides broadband services to more than 170 million consumers in North America, including almost 3.5 million companies. Critics, including the Justice Department, argued that the merger could inflict long-term harm on the competitiveness of the media sector. These concerns are only compounded by last year’s decision by the FCC to kill net neutrality, allowing broadband providers to favor some content over others on their networks.
“Merging AT&T, one of the largest cable, satellite, and mobile broadband companies, with Time Warner will lead to higher prices, fewer choices and perhaps more importantly, fewer voices,” Gigi Sohn, an adviser to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told CNET on Friday. “Coupled with the demise of the 2015 net neutrality rules, AT&T will be free to favor Time Warner content over its cable and its fixed and mobile broadband networks.”
However, Mr. Stephenson says AT&T is committed to maintaining “creative freedom” in its various operating entities.
“As different as our businesses are, I think you’ll find we have a lot in common,” Stephenson said in an internal memo on Thursday obtained by Variety. “Like you, we take immense pride in what we do. And we have a passion for always doing the right thing and supporting our communities. We’re big fans of your talent and creativity. And you have my word that you will continue to have the creative freedom and resources to keep doing what you do best.”