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Senate summons wrong company to AT&T-Time Warner hearing

Subcommittee reviewing the deal invites Time Warner Cable, a company purchased by Charter Communications earlier this year.

James Leynse, Corbis via Getty Images

There's enough confusion surrounding the megamerger between AT&T and Time Warner without the senate adding to it.

The Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee is investigating the $85.4 billion deal, which would combine the media giant's entertainment properties, including HBO and CNN, with the telecommunications giant's millions of wireless and pay-television subscribers. The panel frequently reviews large mergers to determine whether the marriage of the companies may violate antitrust laws, but in this case kicked off its probe by looking at the wrong company.

But instead of summoning Jeff Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, to testify at its hearings, the committee accidentally invited Rob Marcus, the former CEO of Time Warner Cable, the pay-TV and broadband-internet company taken over earlier this year by cable company Charter Communications.

"Both Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, and Robert Marcus, the CEO of Time Warner, will testify," the release said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The committee soon corrected the release, summoning Bewkes instead of Marcus.

The companies' name similarity has also caused a bit of confusion for observers and even politicians, who have expressed opposition to the nonexistent AT&T deal for the cable giant. The confusion led AT&T to file a statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to clear things up.

"Time Warner Inc. should not be confused with Time Warner Cable, which is a distinct, independent company owned by Charter Communications," AT&T's filing explained. "In 2008, Time Warner and Time Warner Cable announced a complete legal and structural separation of the companies. That separation was completed in 2009, and the companies have been completely separate and independent entities ever since."

Representatives for AT&T and Time Warner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.