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AT&T poised to absorb Time Warner Cable – what does this mean for consumers?

(BUSINESS NEWS) After recent news that AT&T was happily selling customer data to government agencies – we have to wonder if Time Warner Cable is about to be pulled into the plot too.

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Innovation at their fingertips

Last week the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust Competition Policy & Consumer Rights met to discuss a proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

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Chief Executive Officer of AT&T, Randall Stephenson told the Senate that, by acquiring Time Warner’s content, “we will be able to innovate more quickly, experiment more readily, tweak our offerings as we gauge customer response and bring consumers the options they seek.”

Inside the politics

Senator Mike Lee promised that the review of the proposed merger would be “very fact-intensive.” Meanwhile, Senator Amy Klobuchar suggested that after acquiring Time Warner, AT&T could withhold licensing for Time Warner content from its competitors. During his campaign, Trump said that he thought the merger should be blocked.

Besides convincing the Senate to approve the merger, AT&T may also need to convince their shareholders that they will protect consumer privacy.

Shareholders from Zevin Asset Management have filed an official proposal asking the company to report “on the consistency between AT&T’s policies on privacy and civil rights and the Company’s actions with respect to U.S. law enforcement investigations.”

Why now?

The proposal is clearly a response to AT&T’s Project Hemisphere. Last month, American Genius reported that AT&T was taking in millions of dollars from law enforcement agencies in exchange for access to a vast network of consumer data.

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Said Pat Migel Tomaino, and Associate Director of Socially Responsible investing at Zevin, “For investors…what makes Hemisphere so risky” is “the perception that AT&T might be going beyond legal requirements and its own privacy policies.”

Support for the merger

Zevin has the support of Open MIC, a nonprofit that assists shareholders in media and technology sectors. According to Michael Connor, Executive Director of Open MIC, “AT&T stands to erode the public and customer’s trust in an industry built upon it.

Consumer trust is critical in the digital age, but unless senior management and boards of directors develop and enforce robust corporate policies and practices to protect the privacy of their users and customers, that trust will quickly erode.”

The proposed review will come to the table at AT&T’s annual shareholders’ meeting in the spring of next year.

#AT&TMerger

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    December 17, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Time Warner Cable, a spin-off of Time Warner, was sold to Charter Communications last year, 2015. You mean Time Warner, not Time Warner Cable.

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