AT&T-Time Warner Merger Should Be Blocked, Bernie Sanders Tells DOJ

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has asked the Justice Department to block AT&T's proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

The deal "represents a gross concentration of power that runs counter to the public good," the influential Democrat says in a letter to the DOJ.

He adds that AT&T's role as a broadband and cable provider makes the deal particularly threatening. "When one giant company owns both the content and the means of distribution, there is a clear disincentive to provide additional choices to consumers."

AT&T has said the merger will enable it provide consumers with a a "stronger competitive alternative" to cable companies, while also enabling it to offer marketers "more relevant and valuable addressable advertising."

But Sanders says AT&T's recent acquisition of satellite provider DirecTV has already resulted in "increased anti-competitive behavior." The lawmaker points to AT&T's decision to exempt DirecTV from customers' data caps -- a move Sanders says is "arguably a violation of net neutrality principles."

The FCC's net neutrality rules don't prohibit data caps or pay-per-byte billing. Instead, the agency said it intends to take a case-by-case approach to determining whether data caps hinder consumers' ability to use the Web.

Consumer advocates have asked the FCC to investigate data caps, and whether providers unfairly exempt some material from the caps, but agency hasn't yet publicly taken a position on the issue.

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