Posts tagged with "AT&T"

Right-wing conspiracy network OAN receives 90% of its funding from AT&T

October 8, 2021

AT&T, the world’s largest communications company, has been bankrolling a right-wing conspiracy network, an investigation by Reuters has revealed.

According to HuffPost, the damning Reuters report, published on Wednesday, October 6, shows that AT&T helped fund and create One America News Network (OAN)―a right-wing network famous for its fawning coverage of former President Donald Trump; and for spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election that Trump lost.

Without AT&T’s $250 million offering, OAN’s value “would be zero,” according to an accountant’s court testimony obtained by Reuters.

More from the publication:

  • OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring, Sr., has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.
  • “They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”
  • Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.
  • Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value “would be zero.”
  • Dallas-based AT&T, a mobile-phone and Internet provider, also owns entertainment giant Warner Media, which includes CNNand HBO. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 and in August spun off the satellite service, retaining a 70% share in the new, independently managed company. AT&T’s total U.S. television subscriber base, including satellite and streaming services, fell from 26 million in 2015 to 15.4 million as of August.

Court filings obtained by Reuters show that Herring cited monthly fees in a five-year deal with AT&T as costing approximately $57 million.

In the last two years of his presidency, Trump repeatedly urged his followers to watch OAN, a network that has been loyal to the former president even when facts have gotten in the way of praise. Last year, as the coronavirus swept through the United States, OAN saw a ratings boost as Trump and the network churned out lies about the virus.

Research contact: @HuffPost

‘Double’ features: Warner Bros. to release all 2021 films concurrently on HBO Max and in theaters

December 7, 2020

Warner Bros., one of Hollywood’s biggest studios, plans to release all of its major films next year at the same time—both in theaters and on HBO Max—a dramatic indication of just how much the pandemic and streaming video have sapped the movie industry.

According to a report by Fortune Magazine, the 17 films affected by the shift include the new installment of the “Matrix” franchise, the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights,” and the DC Comics superhero feature “The Suicide Squad.”

Each movie will run on the HBO Max streaming platform for one month at no additional charge—an approach that the AT&T streaming division of Warner already was planning for the debut of “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas Day.

Such a move would have been considered unthinkable a year ago, but the pandemic has obliterated industry norms. Theaters traditionally have had exclusive rights to films for up to three months, an arrangement they’ve defended vociferously. Now—with COVID-19 still raging and theaters either shuttered or thinly attended—studios are taking increasingly dramatic steps to protect their investments in would-be blockbusters.

The announcement slammed shares of theater chains, including industry leader AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. Its stock dove 16% to $3.62 in its worst intraday slide since Oct. 14. Cinemark Holdings Inc. dropped as much as 16%.

“We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition,” said Ann Sarnoff, chief executive officer of WarnerMedia Studios. “But we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”

The new model could rapidly increase signups to HBO Max, a cornerstone of the long-term strategy for AT&T’s WarnerMedia. The platform launched this year, entering a crowded field that includes Netflix and Disney+. Although pandemic lockdowns have helped fuel industrywide growth for online services, AT&T is under pressure to show it can transition to the streaming era.

Warner was expected to compensate some of the larger cinema chains for their decision to put the new “Wonder Woman” film on HBO Max the same day it was released in theaters. It’s not yet clear what arrangement they could potentially strike for the 2021 films, but any deal will be important to their survival. Ticket sales year to date are down 78% to $2.2 billion, according to research firm Comscore Inc., leaving many cinemas teetering toward bankruptcy. That compares with more than $10 billion at this time a year ago.

Jason Kilar, WarnerMedia’s CEO, told Fortune that the important thing is to get movies out in front of audiences. “Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone,” he said in a statement. “We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”

Research contact: FortuneMagazine

Verizon launches $44 million ‘upskilling program’ for Americans who wants to land an in-demand job

October 23, 2020

Telecommunications giant Verizon is investing $44 million in an upskilling program to help Americans unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Americans looking for better jobs, Business Insider reports.

Currently, applications are being accepted for residents of Dallas, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, Spartanburg, SC, and Washington, DC. The program will start in November and expand to more cities in 2021.

People who are Black or Latinx (a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina), unemployed, or without a four-year-degree will be given priority admissions.

To deliver the program, the company is partnering with two nonprofits focused on workforce development, Generation and JFF, to launch the initiative.

It will train those in need to get jobs like junior cloud practitioner, junior web developer, IT help desk technician and digital marketing analyst.

The upskilling program is part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon’s recently unveiled responsible business plan that includes a goal of preparing 500,000 people for jobs of the future by 2030.

Digital upskilling has increased during the pandemic as millions of Americans look for in-demand jobs, Reuters reported.

In addition to Verizon, Business Insider notes, Amazon,  PwC,  IBM,  and  AT&T have launched major upskilling programs to retrain their workforces or attract new talent in recent years.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Double or nothing? Microsoft’s dual-screen Android phone will arrive September 10

August 13, 2020

Microsoft announced on Wednesday, August 12, that its new Surface Duo—a dual-screen smartphone powered by Alphabet’s Android operating system—initially will be offered at a price point of $1,399. It will arrive in stores beginning September 10—and is available for pre-order now.

According to a report by Reuters, the device will fold closed like a book. Unlike devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2—which uses special flexible glass to create a single display—the Duo will feature two traditional screens separated by a hinge but synchronized to work together.

At a media briefing ahead of the Surface Duo announcement, Microsoft executives positioned the phone as a tool for getting work done with its productivity apps, similar to how many business users employ dual-monitor setups with PCs.

In the company’s Teams chat app, for example, a video chat occupies one screen while the other screen displays chats. In Microsoft’s Outlook email app, clicking a link in the body of an email opens the link on the opposite screen, so the user can continue reading or responding to the email.

 “I’m not trying to reinvent the phone,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, told reporters. “But I do believe this is a better way to get things done.”

The dual-screen setup also allows users to pair up non-Microsoft apps, such as running social networks Twitter and Instagram side by side, notes Reuters. Panay said that one of Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s favorite combinations was using’s Kindle app to read books while taking notes with a stylus in Microsoft’s OneNote app on the other screen.

Panay said Microsoft chose Google’s operating system because it would give users access to Android’s large ecosystem of mobile apps. “Having the Play Store is critical,” he said.

Microsoft said pre-orders for the device begin Wednesday at its own site, AT&T, and BestBuy. Devices will work on wireless networks from AT&T, Verizon Communications, and T-Mobile US.

The device does not have 5G connectivity and is only available in the United States at launch. Microsoft gave no timeline for other markets, Reuters said.

Research contact: @Reuters

More than 100 CNN staffers accept buyouts as AT&T pares down debt

April 8, 2019

More than 100 employees of CNN have opted for buyouts, a spokesperson for the network confirmed to Variety; as its parent company, AT&T,  works to shed approximately $170 million in debt following its purchase of the former Time Warner.

AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner last June–bringing together global media and entertainment leaders Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner with AT&T’s leadership in technology; and its video, mobile, and broadband customer relationships.

The new company, called WarnerMedia, consolidates the three media businesses. AT&T’s other divisions include AT&T Communications, AT&T International, and AT&T’s advertising and analytics platforms.

CNN Worldwide recently offered a voluntary buyout option to staff, the spokesperson told Variety, and “just over 100” chose to exercise an option to use it. No staffers were laid off, this person said. Buyouts also have been offered within other divisions of WarnerMedia.

Major personalities, including Anderson Cooper, will stay on.

CNN is in the midst  of other transitions. The news network this week began broadcasting some of its program from new WarnerMedia headquarters at the Hudson Yards complex, which is located in Manhattan’s West Side. The company had previously been housed at Time Warner Center in midtown.

Research contact: @WarnerMediaGrp

AT&T-Time Warner deal to close next week

June 14, 2018

If only Alexander Graham Bell could see them now: On June 12, federal Judge Richard Leon handed down a huge victory to AT&T (which began business in 1877 as Bell Telephone)—granting the telecom giant a go-ahead for its  $85 billion acquisition of mass media and entertainment conglomerate Time Warner, a decision that promises to reshape the media industry.

After a six-week trial, Judge Leon—who serves as a senior U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia— ruled that the government had failed to prove its case that the deal violates antitrust law. According to a report by CNN Money, “using unusually strong language,” Leon discouraged the Justice Department from asking him to put the ruling on hold while it considers an appeal. He said such a stay would be “manifestly unjust” because it would have the effect of killing the acquisition.

In a formal statement released by AT&T, General Counsel David McAtee, commented: “We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government’s lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner. We thank the Court for its thorough and timely examination of the evidence, and we compliment our colleagues at the Department of Justice on their dedicated representation of the government. We look forward to closing the merger on or before June 20 so we can begin to give consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile, and innovative.

Following that closing, HBO, CNN, Warner Bros. and Time Warner’s other brands will change hands next week—becoming the second largest media company (valued at 282 billion) in the United States, after Amazon (which is valued at $817 billion).

During his campaign, CNN noted, President Trump had objected to the merger on the grounds that, “As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN—a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

A new poll of 1,502 registered Republican voters shows that a majority of President Trump’s supporters oppose the pending AT&T-Time Warner merger. The survey from trade group Incompas and IMGE, a GOP polling firm, shows that 60% of the president’s base said they agree with his campaign pledge to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger. That figure drops to 57% among all Republicans and to 42% among voters overall.

Research contact: @TeamIMGE

Corruption scandal: Trump lawyer Cohen was ‘paid by Ukraine’ to arrange White House talks

May 25, 2018

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been running a corrupt pay-to-play scheme, charging foreign governments and companies for access to the POTUS, according to a May 23 report by Paul Wood of the BBC.

In fact, the U.K.-based news outlet disclosed, Cohen received a secret payment of at least $400,000 to arrange talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Trump last June, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved.

Cohen was contacted by the Ukraine, the sources told BBC’s Wood, because that nation’s registered lobbyists and embassy in Washington D.C. could get President Poroshenko little more than a brief photo-op with  Trump. Poroshenko needed something that could be portrayed as “talks”.

And in a tit for tat fashion, shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home from those “talks” last June, his country’s anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort—who has been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation.

Cohen denies the allegations and is not registered as a representative of the Ukraine, as he should be under U.S. law, if he negotiated on their behalf, the BBC says.

However, in recent days, Trump’s “fixer” also has been accused of arranging secret access to the POTUS for U.S. telecom giant AT&T (which allegedly paid $200,000 to a shell company created by Cohen called Essential Consultants) and for Swiss pharmaceutical giant Norvartis (which paid $100,000 into the same account).

The Daily Dot reports that, in all, businesses and bodies politic paid $4.4 million into the Essential Consultants account in hopes of getting something in return from the new U.S. administration.

What’s more, this month, Trump, himself, reportedly made a suspicious deal—instructing the U.S. Commerce Department to help save China’s telecom company, ZTE, following an investment by a Chinese state-owned company, Metallurgical Corporation of China, in a project connected with the new Trump hotel and golf course in Indonesia.

Although Trump campaigned on promises of “draining the swamp” in Washington, a poll conducted by Transparency International at the end of 2017 found that the American public doesn’t think he is cleaning up the government. The results of the US Corruption Barometer 2017 show that:

  • 44% of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House, up from 36% in 2016;
  • 58% say the level of corruption has risen in the past year, up from 34% who said the same in January 2016;
  • Almost 70% believe the government is failing to fight corruption, up from 50% in 2016;
  • 55% gave fear of retaliation as the main reason not to report corruption, up from 31% in 2016; and
  • 74% think that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption, up 4 percentage points from 2016.

As news of Cohen’s pay-to-play dealings and Trump’s ties to his old business continues to come in, Americans are worried, according to Zoe Reiter, U.S. Representative at Transparency International.

Reiter commented, “There is a clear sense that people feel corruption has gotten worse. In January 2016, Americans were already distrustful of Washington. Last year, Congress fared the worst in this survey. This year, it is the White House, followed by Congress. Our elected officials are failing to build back trust in Washington’s ability to serve the people, and still appear to represent elite corporate interests.”

Research contact:

Global bankers fear Trump will negatively impact M&A

December 7, 2017

With the stock market soaring and his tax “reform” bill about to be passed by Republicans in the U.S. Congress, President Donald Trump has said he will be “unbeatable” in 2020. When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, however, global dealmakers are less sanguine, according to results of a poll released on December 4.

They fear that the man who co-wrote “The Art of the Deal”  with Tony Schwartz may be unable to resist meddling in the M&A sphere.

In fact, based on the findings of the poll, conducted by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills in partnership with The Economist Group, Trump will have a detrimental impact on M&A over the next couple of years.

The two organizations got feedback this quarter from more than 200 senior executives and advisers involved in deal-making in Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris, Bloomberg reported.

The survey was taken before Senate Republicans narrowly passed their 500-page rewrite of the tax code and a repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate.

While 42% of global respondents said Trump’s impact will be negative; about 38% said the president actually has no impact and only 20% predicted a positive effect.

Despite the upbeat expectations of the latter respondents, already this year, deals in North America have declined almost one-third from the same period in 2016—to $1.1 trillion, bringing global volume down 11%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Indeed, the Trump’s administration has demonstrated what can only be characterized as a zeal to push back on deals that it deduces will give companies too much power. For example, Bloomberg points out, AT&T’s $85.4 billion bid for entertainment giant Time Warner is facing an unexpected legal battle with the Justice Department.

Such political involvement in deals could cause problems, respondents to the poll said. Some 36% opined that it’s an “impediment and not welcome,” while 52% said intervention is an impediment but “necessary for wider social, economic and/or policy reasons,” according to the Herbert Smith survey. Only 12% said it’s not a significant impediment.

Research contact: The Economist Group  (202- 650-6500)