John Stankey, CEO of the AT&T Entertainment Group, is reportedly being tapped as co-CEO of AT&T following the Time Warner merger.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Stankey would be the chief executive in charge of AT&T’s media division, including Time Warner. John Donovan, AT&T’s chief strategy officer, would become CEO of AT&T’s communications business, including DirecTV. Current CEO Randall Stephenson would become executive chairman and would focus on honing AT&T’s future as a media conglomerate.
Along with the reported organizational changes at AT&T, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes would stay on for a year after the merger, although the companies are reportedly still working out how to structure the transition.
While the management structure for the new AT&T could still change—and the deal still needs U.S. Justice Department approval—Stephenson has said the reports of him ceding his CEO role are not necessarily accurate.
Stephenson responded to the Bloomberg report, telling CNBC that the organizational changes in the report are “speculation” and that his title won’t change.
In addition to hammering out details about how AT&T would be run should the merger go through, AT&T and Time Warner are still dealing with a looming beef between President Donald Trump and CNN.
The pending $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger is in need of a thumbs-up from the Justice Department, and Trump could use that as leverage in his war against CNN, according to The New York Times. That leverage could manifest itself as the White House urging Time Warner to oust CNN chief Jeff Zucker before the merger is approved.
AT&T and Time Warner are also contending with pushback from Democratic lawmakers who are concerned about the power and scale a combined AT&T and Time Warner could wield over the media and communications industries.
In a letter signed by Senators Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, Ron Wyden, Jeffrey Merkley, Richard Blumenthal, Bernie Sanders, Maria Cantwell, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin and Cory Booker, the lawmakers contend that a combined AT&T and Time Warner will have “unmatched control of popular content” which could lead to higher prices, fewer choices and poorer quality services for Americans.
“Before initiating the next big wave of media consolidation, you must consider how the $85 billion deal will impact Americans' wallets, as well as their access to a wide range of news and entertainment programming. Should you determine that the substantial harms to competition and consumers arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits, you should reject the proposed acquisition,” the senators wrote.