With the American mainstream media swiftly becoming the laughingstock of the global entertainment industry, mergers and acquisitions are the only way that many of these dinosaurs can survive the coming apocalypse.
In particular, the 24 hour news networks have been especially affected due to their archaic advertising structure. Where the free press, operating nearly exclusively on the internet, has the ability to work with passive advertising tactics, the mainstream magnates of the “news” industry will forever be burdened with traditional commercial breaks that dictate their entire programming narrative.
In the world of CNN, MSNBC, and others, hosts must predicate their delivery of information on keeping viewers hooked through a commercial break, or risk financial turmoil during their time slot. This was incredibly evident during Rachel Maddow’s unbelievable “Trump tax returns” stunt earlier this year. Viewers complained heavily that, after teasing the supposed “scoop” on Twitter, Maddow rambled on for the first 20 minutes of her program in order to serve the first advertising break to her audience on a silver platter. Then, within moments of returning to the air, Maddow laid the smack down on herself by revealing her “nothing burger” to the world.
In the eyes of MSNBC, however, the program was successful if for no other reason than the massive ratings that were maintained through that all important commercial break.
Now, as AT&T attempts to merge with Time Warner, the parent company of fake news originators CNN, the Department of Justice has stepped in to ensure that no anti-trust laws are broken in the enormous deal. To make the deal work, the DOJ needs CNN to be sold…something that Time Warner may not be willing to do.
“The Department of Justice has told AT&T that Time Warner must sell CNN in order to approve its $84.5 billion acquisition of the media company, according to the Financial Times.
“Citing ‘three people with direct knowledge of the negotiations,’ the Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Time Warner must sell the cable news channel before the U.S. antitrust authority signs off on the deal.
“CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker has essentially installed an anti-Trump programming strategy that has helped the network’s ratings and digital traffic. It’s unclear if AT&T would be interested in moving forward with the proposed deal if CNN is no longer part of the package.
“A source with direct knowledge of the talks between the company and the DOJ told the Times that, ‘It’s all about CNN.’ The source also told the paper that regulators have made it clear to AT&T executives that if it sold CNN, the deal would go through.”
The conflict between the Department of Justice and Time Warner could easily come to litigation if the DOJ stands firm on its assessment of the deal.
Were that to become the case, there is little hope that the “new” outlet could maintain its supposed neutrality in covering the news, and could cause a devaluation of the brand as its programming continues to devolve into chaos. This would further wrinkle the merger, as CNN is considered one of the more important properties in the Time Warner portfolio.