September 11, 2018
AT&T CFO John Stephens reaffirmed the telecom will continue to operate Turner Broadcasting System as a separate business from WarnerMedia.
Turner, which includes CNN, TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and TruTV, had been included under the Time Warner corporate umbrella prior to latter’s $85 billion acquisition by AT&T.
With the Department of Justice appealing its federal court antitrust loss stopping the merger, AT&T said it would operate Turner separately until the appeal deadline on Feb. 28, 2019.
Speaking Sept. 10 at an investor event in New York, Stephens said that while Turner would historically operate under WarnerMedia – headed by John Stankey – it would remain independent until resolution of the DOJ appeal.
“While we have committed to running Turner as a separate business pending the appeal, we intend to move the results of some of our other network properties such as our regional sports networks under Turner when we report [third-quarter, ending Sept. 30] results,” Stephens said.
It’s been speculated that CNN, which has been in the crosshairs of President Donald Trump’s “fake news” allegations, was the reason the DOJ filed its late antitrust litigation in the first place.
AT&T had sought to obtain communication between the White House and the DOJ regarding the case but was denied by the judge overseeing the case.
“This just continues what has been a very odd series of procedures by the DOJ,” Paul Sweeney, media analyst at Bloomberg, told The Dallas Morning News in July. “It’s perplexing to legal experts I’ve spoken to, and certainly investors.”
Meanwhile, Otter Media, the digital media company co-owned by AT&T and former 21stCentury Fox executive Peter Chernin, has been moved from AT&T’s entertainment group segment to WarnerMedia following the telecom’s acquisition of Chernin’s stake last month.
“We will continue to show financials at a reporting unit level for Turner, HBO and Warner for comparability purposes,” Stephens said.