That’s under consideration — possibly with Stankey and Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan sharing the CEO title, overseeing distinct operations, while CEO Randall Stephenson becomes executive chairman — Bloomberg reports.
AT&T denies part of the report, saying that Stephenson will keep the chairman and CEO titles. It adds that “no decisions on org structure or leadership have been finalized. Randall and [Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes] are working through that.”
Stephenson says the piece is filled with “speculation,” CNBC tweets .
In any event, Bloomberg says the telco wants to take a page from the Comcast playbook by separating content and distribution under leaders who would have autonomy to run them as they see fit.
That would mean moving DirecTV from Stankey’s turf to Donovan’s where he also would oversee wired and wireless phone operations.
Such a change could appeal to antitrust regulators who fear that AT&T might use Time Warner’s news and entertainment to strangle potential competitors. That could be especially important in the fast-evolving worlds of online and mobile infotainment.
A group of public interest advocates yesterday cited that possibility in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to challenge the merger.
AT&T “would be able to give all of its own video services favorable treatment that it does not make available to its rivals, including exempting its own services from data metering or prioritizing its own service’s traffic, a possibility made all the more real by the threat of the FCC’s reversal of its current Open Internet Order,” 14 groups including the Writers Guild of America West, Consumers Union, and Public Knowledge say.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has said that he’ll stay at least a year after the merger with AT&T. The telco has said that it’s eager to hang on to HBO’s Richard Plepler, Turner Broadcasting’s John Martin and Warner Brothers’ Kevin Tsujihara.
Stankey’s relatively new to the entertainment world, having worked his way up the ladder through AT&T’s telecom operations before taking charge of the DirecTV-dominated entertainment unit.
But he told Deadline last year, before AT&T made its deal with Time Warner, that the company “knows how to build long-term relationships and treat our partners fairly. We’ve demonstrated that we can work with folks to distribute content and make money. And I think if you can help people further their business models and get a return for their shareholders, treat them fairly, and have good human relationships that are long-term in nature, you can ultimately establish those kinds of business relationships that are healthy.”