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AT&T-Time Warner deal may have easier path to approval

By on February 27, 2017

In this Monday, May 19, 2014, file photo, traders gather at the post that handles AT&T on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. There are already a few online services that aim to replace cable, but they don’t have many users yet. AT&T’s DirecTV hopes to change that. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

In this Monday, May 19, 2014, file photo, traders gather at the post that handles AT&T on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK — AT&T’s $85 billion purchase of Time Warner may be getting an easier path to approval after the chief telecommunications regulator says it isn’t likely to review the deal.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is telling The Wall Street Journal that the agency likely won’t be involved because of changes in the deal’s structure.

Last week, magazine publisher and TV station owner Meredith announced plans buy Time Warner’s lone TV station for $70 million. AT&T’s takeover of that station would have meant an FCC review.

FCC spokesman Neil Grace confirmed Pai’s comments to The Associated Press.

The Justice Department still needs to approve the merger. But the FCC was considered the tougher cop. It must determine a deal is in the public interest, a broader criteria than antitrust.

Pai has been taking more industry-friendly stances on many issues since President Donald Trump appointed him FCC chairman.

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