AT&T acquisition of Time Warner will not be blocked by Trump, CEO predicts

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Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes talked about the pending sale to AT&T onstage at Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. on Wednesday.

Bewkes told the largely tech and media crowd that he doesn’t think the Trump administration will have a big impact on the proposed deal, despite previous claims by the president that he’s against it. Bewkes hoped that the Department of Justice would make a decision based on historical precedent.

But one policy area that the new administration is likely to impact is the regulation related to net neutrality. Unsurprisingly, Bewkes took the side of the cable giants and said that Google and Facebook aren’t currently held to the same standards. “There’s no reason that they should have more lax standards of data use than other competitors,” he griped. 

He also talked about internet streaming and the impact that cord-cutting will have on the content business. Time Warner owns properties including HBO and CNN, but he believes that regardless of what screen people are watching it on, “you’re going to subscribe to it in one form or another.”

Bewkes also discussed the controversial role that CNN played in the political election. When asked if too much airtime helped Trump in the primaries, he quipped “could somebody tell him? He seems to be a prominent person who doesn’t know that.” Trump supporters have accused the channel of being biased toward Clinton.

He said that Trump initially got more air time than the other Republican primary candidates because “when you asked the others to come, they didn’t come,” suggesting that Trump was the most willing candidate to appear on TV. 

As for the election, “we were simply trying to cover it,” said Bewkes, but “we’re constantly looking at it to see if we can get it better.”