Companies that provide phone and internet connections are investing in media to find new revenue sources and ensure they don’t get relegated to being just “dumb pipes.” Verizon bought AOL last year and has now proposed a deal for Yahoo to build a digital-ad business. Comcast bought NBCUniversal in 2011.

AT&T has been active, too. After its attempt to buy wireless competitor T-Mobile was scrapped in 2011 following opposition from regulators, the company doubled down on television by purchasing satellite-TV company DirecTV for $48.5 billion.

The pressure on AT&T has been intense.

The venerable phone company with roots back to Alexander Graham Bell has to contend with slowing growth in wireless services, given that most Americans already have smartphones, and it faces new competitors for that business from cable companies. Comcast plans to launch a cellphone service for its customers next year.

Buying Time Warner may be “a good defensive move” against Comcast as the cable giant continues stretching into new businesses, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said in a Friday note. Comcast also bought movie studio DreamWorks Animation in August.

 


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