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AT&T may be looking to unload its ownership of CNN to cut costs just as it seems the network could take a ratings dive without President Trump in the White House.
Fox Business Network senior correspondent Charlie Gasparino unpacked the reported stories about the possible move by the “financially unstable” AT&T company though there have been no announcements that CNN is for sale. Gasparino spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the challenges of finding a viable buyer given that the cable news network may have hit its peak “hating Trump.”
“One thing we can be certain of is the news media is going to change quite a bit over the last year. It’s already changed an awful lot, and not for the better. We are learning tonight that AT&T is eyeing a possible sale of CNN, which it owns, to pay its massive debt,” Carlson began the segment on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“Well, we should point out CNN brass, some of the suits, recently said that they’re not for sale, that they have great plans for them,” Gasparino noted, adding that “this came after some of our reporting on Jeff Bezos may be being interested” in buying the network, referring to the Amazon CEO and founder.
(Source: Fox News)
“Here’s what I can tell you, and why this is such a fascinating story and how it’s not going to go away over the next four years…the balance sheet over there is a real problem, and that’s what’s fueling this,” Gasparino continued.
“CNN does not have Donald Trump to kick around anymore and their ratings will take a hit,” he said, referring to the possibility that the president will concede the election to his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
“They are owned by a company that is financially unstable,$150 billion in debt, AT&T has. They need to cut costs,” he told Carlson, adding that “there’s an activist investor out there.”
He explained that CNN represents the “content” part of AT&T, with the other part of the company being made up of its wireless, distribution and satellite divisions.
“That content part is not analogous to the other content that they have here, it sticks out like a sore thumb…And you can probably get now a premium for it. Maybe not two years from now, hence what you have is intense banker speculation that this is for sale. You have activist investors pushing it,” Gasparino continued.
“I’m not a CNN hater. They have a lot of good journalists there,” he said, noting that many of the people he knows at the network “believe they are for sale.”
“If you can find a buyer. One of the problems AT&T has here is there is not a lot of natural buyers,” he said, citing the speculation about billionaire Bezos who “has $200 billion and he can spend the $10 billion for it.”
But Gasparino pointed out some problems with the idea as well, noting that “tech is out because of antitrust, Comcast can’t buy it, again antitrust, and the billionaires out there that have $3 billion can’t afford it.”
“I got this from prominent bankers, both private equity and on the street that do this for living. This rumor is real…not quite the story yet, but this is going to keep coming, and we are going to hear a lot more about this because AT&T is a screwed up company,” Gasparino predicted.
“And let me tell you something,” he added, “CNN, like a lot of media companies, it may have hit its peak, hating Trump.”
Gasparino spoke with Fox Business host Neil Cavuto about the rumors as well this week, noting that Warner Media CEO Jason Kilar tried to assuage CNN staffers’ fears during a town hall about a potential sale, saying the network was just getting started. But the meeting was held after a memo from Kilar announcing a new wave of layoffs for the parent company.
AT&T is “looking to transform themselves in to a wireless 5G company and an entertainment provider of content,” Gasparino told Cavuto, adding that CNN “doesn’t quite fit there.”
He also pointed out that there is a “cultural issue” at play as well, with CNN in New York being more “left of center” while “the guys in Dallas who run AT&T, very conservative.”
Conservative television and radio host Mark Levin floated a possible buyer for the network on Twitter.
“CNN for sale. Maybe China will buy it just to keep it afloat,” he tweeted in reaction to the Fox News report. “After all, it serves their purposes.”
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