AT&T and Time Warner evaluate to remove pay TV channels in Brazil

Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) and National Film Agency (Ancine) will have to decide in the second half of the year on the acquisition of Time Warner (today Warner Media) by AT&T. ‘If the decision is that AT & T can not own HBO, Turner (TNT and CNN) and Sky at the same time, one of the alternatives would be to stop selling content on pay TV and only make streaming broadcasts’, said Michael Hartman , senior vice president of AT&T.

AT&T announced it bought Warner Media in 2016, and has already overcome the last regulatory obstructions for the acquisition in the US, where the merger was already operational, but a final conclusion is expected from the Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Department (the merger was rejected in the first legal instance). The purpose of the group is to launch an OTT before the end of the year, but it still awaits the approval of the Brazilian organizations. ‘Everyone is making important investments. We are only facing a situation of doubt  in Brazil, which is holding them back’, said Hartman.

The group has already removed Esporte Interativo’s channels to follow Conditional Access Law (SeAC), which does not allow cross-ownership between distribution and content production companies . ‘It was necessary to adapt the operation of these channels, taking into account the Law’s needs,because they probably could not be produced in Brazil’, said the executive. In HBO and the Turner channels cases, AT & T aims that, since these units have their headquarters outside of Brazil and do not produce directly in the country, there is no impediment for the group to keep them together with Sky.

‘Apart from the specific issue, the regulation and how it will be applied, we are facing growing competition’, Hartman said, adding: ‘large companies are directing  good part of their strategy to find ways of granting new audiovisual content for consumers. It is a pity that in Brazil the speech is not focused on that, to the customer’s interests, but for a surpassed and unnecessary Law application analysis based on a market concept that does not exist anymore’. When asked if AT&T could follow other multinational companies footsteps  that left the Brazilian market, Hartman answered that ‘AT&T is only going to give up  from the market if it is forced to do so’.