By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc <TWX.N> said on Thursday it plans to sell a broadcast station in Atlanta to Meredith Corp <MDP.N> for $70 million, which could help speed the company's planned merger with AT&T Inc <T.N>.
In January, AT&T said it expected to be able to bypass the Federal Communications Commission in its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner because it would not seek to transfer any Time Warner licenses.
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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai declined to say on Thursday if he would seek to use the proposed TV station license transfer as a way to examine the AT&T/Time Warner merger. About a dozen senators have urged him to review the deal.
The station that Time Warner is selling, WPCH-TV in Atlanta, is its only FCC-regulated broadcast station. It has other, more minor FCC licenses.
Meredith has operated WPCH-TV for Time Warner since 2011. It was previously know as WTBS.
Time Warner said last month that since it did not plan to transfer any FCC licenses to AT&T, it would likely not need FCC approval and would only need the consent of the U.S. Justice Department.
The Justice Department has to prove a proposed deal harms competition in order to block it. The FCC has broad leeway to block a merger it deems is not in the "public interest" and can impose additional conditions.
Meredith said in a statement it expected to close on the sale by June 30 and that the deal would not have a material impact on its results.
AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told CNBC earlier this month the Justice Department review was ongoing and he thought the deal would close by the end of the year. "It's a clean transaction," he said.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)