×

Sen. Blumenthal: AT&T-Time Warner merger needs ‘rigorous scrutiny’

Antitrust committee member Richard Blumenthal said Thursday that he believes the AT&T-Time Warner merger deserves "rigorous scrutiny," as it raises questions about whether a combination of this magnitude will truly benefit consumers.

Blumenthal, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, told CNBC that the merger "raises alarm bells," and that the Federal Communications Commission should undoubtedly get involved in its review.

"It is a vertical integration with potential impacts on competitors. It may not be taking out a competitor, but it may severely constrain competition and harm consumers," the senator and former Connecticut Attorney General said on "Squawk Alley."

While many have compared this merger to that of Comcast and NBC, Blumenthal said the two are actually quite different.

"The merger here is very different from NBC and Comcast in this respect: It involves wireless, it's a national platform and it involves more than one platform. It's several platforms, whereas Comcast and NBC really involved one platform and it was limited to certain parts of the country," Blumenthal said.

Other precedents set with the Comcast-NBC merger will also be called into question, according to Blumenthal.

The senator said that both the Justice Department and the FCC should review the conditions placed on Comcast and NBC when they merged, and "whether [those] conditions can be sufficiently enforced or policed so that they really make sense for the companies as well as for consumers."

As for the bipartisan backlash this merger has received, with both Republican and Democratic policymakers and politicians questioning its validity, Blumenthal said that there is "nothing partisan" about adhering to antitrust measures.

"Consumer protection and antitrust enforcement never has been and never should be a partisan issue," Blumenthal said.

Instead, the senator said the focus needs to be on the public interest and a key question: "Does this merger result in positive gain?"

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.