Franken: AT&T's Time Warner takeover 'raises immediate flags'

(AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

It didn't take long for Sen. Al Franken to have his say on AT&T's proposed takeover of Time Warner.

News broke on Saturday that the telecoms giant has agreed an $85.4 billion takeover of the media and entertainment conglomerate, which owns CNN and HBO among other TV channels and the Warner Bros. movie studios.

No sooner had it broke that Sen. Franken, who has been an outspoken critic of major media takeovers, has expressed his skepticism over the deal.

Franken opposed Comcast's proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner last year, which collapsed when it was opposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) amid concerns Comcast would have too much control over what Americans would watch and do online, NPR reports.

And in comments on Saturday, Franken said AT&T's proposed takeover, which will have to go through intense regulatory scrutiny, raises "immediate flags."

"AT&T's reported proposal to acquire Time Warner for more than $80 billion raises some immediate flags about consolidation in the media market, which is an area I've worked to address for years," said Sen. Franken.

"I'm skeptical of huge media mergers because they can lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers. And regulators often agree, like when Comcast unsuccessfully tried to buy Time Warner Cable, a deal that I fiercely opposed.

"In the coming days, I'm going to be pressing for further details about this reported deal and how it would affect the American consumer, who deserves access to the content they want and whose pocketbook continues to be squeezed by rising cable and internet costs."

Forbes reports that consumers should be wary of the deal to make the second-largest wireless provider a content producer, noting that consolidation could result in a lack of competition that in turn forces prices up.

The magazine also notes that it could bring into play net neutrality, suggesting that federal officials will watch to ensure it doesn't favor its own content when it's accessed by its wireless internet customers.

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