AT&T-Time Warner deal gets approval from European Commission

Time Warner Center. Image courtesy of Time Warner, Inc.

The European Commission has signed off on AT&T’s bid to acquire Time Warner Inc.

Getting the okay from the executive body of the European Union comes for the companies as they still face a somewhat uncertain regulatory review process in the U.S.

“We appreciate the skilled work of the European Commission’s team for their timely effort to analyze and clear the AT&T-Time Warner merger,” said Bob Quinn, senior executive vice president of AT&T External and Legislative Affairs, in a statement. “This is an important approval from a highly respected authority. The global clearance process is on track, and we look forward to creating a company that will lead the next wave of innovation in the media and telecommunications industries.”

RELATED: AT&T, Time Warner offer merger details to quell senators' concerns

While the proposed $85 billion merger is likely to face an antitrust review by the Justice Department, there is still some question of whether AT&T and Time Warner will have to contend with the FCC’s public-interest review.

AT&T and Time Warner have said they don’t expect to transfer any FCC licenses because of the deal and therefore should not be subject to an FCC review. Time Warner’s recent sale of its Atlanta broadcast station was likely an extra safeguard against FCC interference.

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he, too, believes his agency won’t be reviewing the proposed $85 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner Inc. Pai told The Wall Street Journal that, since the companies put together the deal so that no FCC licenses need to be transferred, the FCC won’t be involved.

While the regulatory review process is sorted out for AT&T and Time Warner, the companies have been offering up details to concerned legislators about the services and innovations they believe their combined companies can offer.

“AT&T and Time Warner have both encountered such friction as they have sought to bring innovations to market. That friction has kept consumers from getting the full suite of innovative features that they want,” the companies wrote.

Specific video-related innovations that AT&T and Time Warner see possible post-merger include:

  • Short-form programming optimized for presentation on mobile devices
  • Interactive and personalized methods of viewing sports and other live events
  • More relevant advertising in ad-supported video services
  • Integrations of professionally produced content with virtual reality or augmented reality services
  • Services that encourage consumers to combine professionally produced content with their own creative content and share the results on social media
  • Greater choice, convenience, and value in programming bundles