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FCC does not expect to review AT&T and Time Warner deal, chairman says

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will not review the pending $85 billion takeover of Time Warner by AT&T, the head of the U.S. regulator told CNBC on Tuesday.

Last year AT&T proposed an acquisition of Time Warner, but the deal has not officially closed yet. As part of the deal, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, said he understood the two parties have structured the deal so that no airwave licenses would be transferred, something that would kick off a review by the watchdog.

"As I understand it, the parties have structured the deal such that it won't require paperwork with the FCC," Pai told CNBC at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Last week, FCC Democrat commissioner Mignon Clyburn urged the organization to review the deal. But Pai said that the regulator could only get involved in event of the transfer of licenses.

"The law as it is stated gives the FCC very limited authority and only if there is a transfer of control of a license between the two parties does the FCC get involved," Pai said.

Currently, the U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the deal but AT&T doesn't expect any roadblocks to the deal closing.

"The filing has been made with the Department of Justice. The review is ongoing right now. There will not be a filing with the FCC. We're going to assume no licenses from Time Warner," Randall Stephenson, AT&T chief executive, told CNBC in an interview earlier this month.

"It will be a one-track review. The Department of Justice will review it. And that's going at pace," he added. "We still think we'll be closed by end of year."

Last week, Time Warner announced plans to sell its Atlanta TV station to Meredith Corp for $70 million, a move that is seen as helping to quicken the deal.