FCC will not say if agency will review AT&T purchase of Time Warner

October 27, 2016 11:28 AM EDT

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson (L) and Time Warner Inc CEO Jeff Bewkes discuss their companies' proposed merger at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday declined to say if he thinks the commission will review AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc.

At a press conference, Wheeler called questions about the deal hypothetical, since nothing has been filed. Some analysts have suggested the transaction could avoid a full-scale FCC review since Time Warner only holds one broadcast license and some satellite licenses.

"We ought to see how things develop," Wheeler said, declining to say whether the FCC could still have a role if no licenses are transferred. AT&T has said the Justice Department will review the deal and that the FCC could review it.

Separately, a U.S. Senate subcommittee said it will hold a Dec. 7 hearing to consider the merger and include testimony from AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes.

The FCC on Thursday also approved new broadband privacy rules that could limit AT&T's ability to use data from Time Warner to boost advertising without getting consumer consent.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Meredith Mazzilli)

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