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Regulators cite concerns with proposed AT&T/Time Warner hook up

Company mergers are central parts of the business landscape in California and across the country, with their combinations often spelling a win-win formula for two joined entities.

Given their consolidation of resources and power, though, they are also often targets of scrutiny for government regulators concerned with open competition in the American marketplace.

Longstanding federal antitrust laws seek to ensure that business rivals are not materially threatened by behavior -- such as a merger -- that can be reasonably regarded as monopolistic and anti-competitive in nature. Select business conduct also brings a close look, too, in instances where legal enforcers believe that it is stifling consumer choice.

Top-rung officials with AT&T are hearing a lot about that these days in connection with their desire to forge business links with Time Warner. The two companies have long been involved in negotiations geared toward AT&T's buyout of the latter entity, with the purchase also slated to include Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting division.

If a merger between the companies is finalized, the reported $85.4 billion deal would leave AT&T -- already a huge player in the television programming market -- with total ownership of TV channels that include HBO, CNN, TNT and TBS.

And that clearly concerns the Trump administration and officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, with DOJ principals reportedly being ready to challenge any proposed merger in court if it begins to materially go forward.

Some news reports are currently stressing that, while regulators are unnerved by the prospects of a completely merged AT&T/Time Warner entity, they are not seeking to deny the companies new opportunities. It has apparently been suggested to AT&T executives that they find a business solution that stops somewhat short of a total Time Warner buyout.

What that might be is yet unknown. We will be sure to keep readers timely informed of any significant developments that might arise concerning this huge business story.

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