February 23, 2017 / 5:58 PM / 6 months ago

Time Warner to sell TV station as it seeks AT&T merger OK

WASHINGTON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc said on Thursday it plans to sell a broadcast station in Atlanta to Meredith Corp, which could help speed the company's planned merger with AT&T Inc.

In January, AT&T said it expected to be able to bypass the Federal Communications Commission in its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner because it would not seek to transfer any Time Warner licenses.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday declined to say if he would seek to use the proposed TV station license transfer as a way to examine the AT&T Time Warner merger. About a dozen senators have urged him to review the deal.

The station that Time Warner is selling, WPCH-TV in Atlanta, is its only FCC-regulated broadcast station. But it has other, more minor FCC licenses.

Meredith has operated WPCH-TV for Time Warner since 2011. It was previously know as WTBS.

Time Warner said last month that since it does not plan to transfer any FCC licenses to AT&T, it would likely not need FCC approval and would only need the consent of the U.S. Justice Department.

The Justice Department has to prove a proposed deal harms competition in order to block it. But the FCC has broad leeway to block a merger it deems is not in the "public interest" and can impose additional conditions. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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