AT&T, Discovery eye combining networks, studio and streaming services

Investors believe AT&T overpaid for Time Warner, will have difficult time finding synergies for it: Gasparino

Charlie Gasparino on AT&T, Time Warner

AT&T Inc. is in talks to combine a big portfolio of media assets, including CNN, with Discovery Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would mark a major strategy shift for the telecom giant as the traditional TV business faces prolonged pressure.

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The talks, which cover CNN and other parts of AT&T's WarnerMedia division, including the TNT and TBS cable channels, are advanced, and an agreement could be reached by Monday, the people said. Should there be a deal, AT&T shareholders would own a big stake in the new entity, some of the people said. The people cautioned that a deal isn't done yet and the talks could still fall apart. Other details of the potential transaction couldn't be learned.

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A deal between WarnerMedia and Discovery, whose portfolio includes its namesake network and HGTV, would further consolidate a media business buffeted by cord-cutting and competition from streaming video.

The talks signal a major pullback by AT&T, which placed a massive bet on media with its 2018 acquisition of Time Warner Inc. for around $81 billion. That deal made it the world's most indebted nonfinancial company.

Bloomberg earlier reported that AT&T was in talks to combine media assets with Discovery.

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