Sling TV's Warren Schlichting: AT&T-Time Warner deal may lead to ‘severe bleeding’ of subscribers

Sling TV Group President Warren Schlichting. (Image: Dish Network)

Sling TV Group President Warren Schlichting testified Monday as a government witness, telling a Washington, D.C., federal court that an $85 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner Inc. would render the latter with too much leverage.

Schlichting said that the Dish Network-owned virtual MVPD already struggles with Time Warner to negotiate carriage deals. He described current talks as a “mutual headlock.” 

Should Time Warner integrate with the top pay TV operator, he said, the programming conglomerate’s top channel group, Turner Networks, could afford to simply walk away if it wasn’t getting the carriage terms it wanted. 


Like this story? Subscribe to FierceVideo!

The Video industry is an ever-changing world where big ideas come along daily. Cable, Media and Entertainment, Telco, and Tech companies rely on FierceVideo for the latest news, trends, and analysis on video creation and distribution, OTT delivery technologies, content licensing, and advertising strategies. Sign up today to get news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

“For them it’s a temporary blip if things don’t go well,” Schlichting said. However, Sling would lose massive numbers of subscribers if they didn’t have access to Turner networks including CNN, TNT and TBS. 

“It would be severe bleeding,” Schlichting testified. 

Schlichting’s comments were reported by Bloomberg and numerous other outlets. 

RELATED: Cox’s Fenwick ‘very concerned’ about ‘horribly ugly’ AT&T-Time Warner deal

The Dish executive’s testimony followed a government witness appearance late last week by Cox Communications program acquisition executive Suzanne Fenwick, who also argued that the deal would hurt the negotiation posture of rival pay TV operators. 

The Justice Department is suing AT&T, seeking to block what it deems a horizontal merger of a distributor and program supplier. 

For his part, Schlichting is also scheduled to testify today. His testimony was cut short Monday when it was revealed that he had been furnished with an illicit copy of transcripts from last week’s testimony—the judge had specifically ordered witnesses not to see those documents. 

Turner Networks CEO John Martin is scheduled to follow Schlichting onto the stand. 

Suggested Articles

Hulu with Live TV will raise the price of its base package by $10, bringing the cost up to $54.99 per month. The price change will kick in on Dec. 18.

As AT&T TV Now falls back in the pack, Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV have emerged as the co-leaders among virtual MVPDs in terms of subscribers.

Verizon's Stream TV device, for now, doesn't support Netflix.