Could AT&T be looking to make a big next step into the media industry by acquiring an entertainment content provider? AT&T might be looking to follow in the footsteps of another successful media/communications distributor. With $7.2 billion in cash on hand, AT&T could move on from its recent $48.5 billion DirecTV acquisition. Could Time Warner or Discovery Communications be in play -- this according to CNBC? Other analysts have talked up Viacom as a possible target. Pay TV distributors have long toyed with the idea of owning big content owners -- TV networks, movie studios, and new digital media platforms. Many have tried and failed. Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, says when Comcast was mulling its purchase of NBCU in 2009, this kind of combination wasn’t in vogue. Comcast, which had investments in a few cable channels before its NBC deal, believed it could thrive in a bigger TV/movie content platform. And it has -- from the likes of a revival of the NBC network in prime time, to recent revenue growth at Universal Pictures, and with higher prime-time ratings at Telemundo. “Synergy” was once a long-sought idea by big media in the 1990s -- that is, own the distribution and the content. Then the most spectacular failure happened, after AOL’s purchase of Time Warner in 2000. Since then stuff has gone in the other direction for the most part. Multiple media companies have looked to divest businesses -- especially TV companies that also had slower-growth print businesses. Liberty Media may be one company that has gone in the other direction -- more as a cable TV investor/partner. It owned, and then sold off, equity stakes in DirecTV, Starz Media, and truTV, and Game Show Network. It continues to own a 27% stake in cable operator Charter Communications -- which recently acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. For its part, AT&T has already seen its chief rival, Verizon move from buying AOL in May to Yahoo’s key content assets in July. For many analysts, the media business aggregation of content producers would seem to make sense. AT&T could be making that call soon.