The president of the United States should not interfere in the government review process of mergers and acquisitions, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt told CNBC on Tuesday.
"This is still another case of Donald Trump having a unique view about how our system works," Hundt said in a "Squawk Box" interview.
If Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were elected, he argued that she would favor "following the precedents that were set in the previous reviews, and one of them was the approval of Comcast and NBC, but with a lot of tough conditions."
While the Comcast-NBC deal was struck before the introduction of federal net neutrality measures, Hundt said the extensive conditions were in the spirit of promoting the free flow of content on the internet.
Whether the AT&T-Time Warner deal passes depends on the willingness of the companies to accept the expected conditions imposed by the Justice Department and the FCC, he said.
The proposed merger would bring together a wireless, broadband and satellite TV giant with a content powerhouse in movies and television.
For example, "suppose AT&T wanted to use what's called 'zero-rating,' meaning you buy the AT&T wireless phone and you can have all of the data that includes HBO that you want: something distinctive about an AT&T wireless service," Hundt said.
But, according to Hundt, the solution is not so easy. The former FCC chairman said that among federal regulators, zero-rating is still "an unresolved question," leaving ample room for disagreement in dealings.
Luckily for AT&T, Hundt said the fee for breaking off the deal is relatively small. "If AT&T doesn't like the [government's} conditions, they can walk away without paying an arm and a leg."
AT&T would pay Time Warner $500 million if the deal doesn't go through under certain conditions. But if Time Warner were to back out of the deal, the media giant has agreed to pay AT&T a $1.7 billion termination fee.