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AT&T CEO Stephenson says Time Warner understanding indispensable in content-dependent world

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – ATT (T.N) CEO Randall Stephenson pronounced on Thursday his company’s bid to buy film and TV uncover builder Time Warner (TWX.N) would concede a dual firms to offer business improved by obscure compensate TV rates, rejecting supervision arguments a understanding would lift consumer prices.

Chief Executive Officer of ATT Randall Stephenson arrives during a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., U.S. Apr 19, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Speaking in U.S. District Court in Washington, Stephenson addressed himself to Judge Richard Leon who will confirm if a $85 billion understanding might go forward. He pronounced that he wanted to mix what ATT knew about a business with Time Warner’s ability to emanate constrained content.

Stephenson disagreed with a government’s comment that a transaction would meant aloft prices for consumers. “On a face, a grounds is absurd,” he said. “It literally defies proof to me.”

Instead, a understanding would assistance ATT, that owns a biggest compensate TV association DirecTV, build a cheaper online product that could be partially postulated by advertising, he said.

The supervision has argued that a due understanding would coax ATT to assign a compensate TV rivals some-more for Time Warner content, in sold a Turner family of news and sports shows. It has also pronounced that a total association would have an inducement to decrease to offer calm to cheaper online video services in sequence to delayed their development.

Stephenson’s testimony mirrored what Time Warner (TWX.N) Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes pronounced on Wednesday. He also argued a understanding would assistance a companies improved contest for promotion dollars with internet giants like Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Facebook (FB.O).

The Justice Department introduced an email sell between Stephenson and Facebook arch executive Mark Zuckerberg in that a span discussed ways they could work together on advertising, though Stephenson pronounced zero came of a exchange.

Like Bewkes, Stephenson discharged a suspicion that ATT would find to use Time Warner calm exclusively, observant a best financial plan was to safeguard it was as widely seen as possible.

Stephenson pronounced that ATT had primarily suspicion to buy several tiny calm companies – a “string of pearls” – though when that unsuccessful it motionless to pursue one vast association in Time Warner, a “head-snapper moment.”

He telephoned Bewkes to entice him to lunch, Stephenson said. “A discerning lunch incited into a really prolonged afternoon,” he said, as they began to plead a deal. “We both got really vehement about it.”

But Stephenson also concurred promulgation an email that voiced regard that Time Warner was holding a interest in a online use Hulu, apparently endangered that it would harm ATT’s online product.

Judge Leon asked Stephenson about ATT’s offer to go to settlement with opposition compensate TV companies if they feel that they are being charged too most for Time Warner content. The arrangement is identical to one struck between a Justice Department and Comcast when it won capitulation to buy NBCU. Both are good for 7 years.

“You modeled that on Comcast?” Leon asked.

“Yes,” Stephenson said.

Following Stephenson, a supervision called Ron Quintero, an accounting consultant who had evaluated ATT’s estimated cost assets and income increases used to urge a due merger. Quintero pronounced that in many of a calculations, ATT simply estimated a commission rebate in expenditures with no information to support it.

The trial, that began in mid-March, is approaching to hang adult this month.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; modifying by Cynthia Osterman

Article source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-time-warner-m-a-at-t/att-ceo-stephenson-says-time-warner-deal-needed-in-content-dependent-world-idUSKBN1HQ2Q5