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Barry Diller Blasts AT&T’s Treatment of Jeff Zucker, Says WarnerMedia Is ‘Now in Better Hands’ (Video)

“How could it ever be in worse hands?” Fox Broadcasting founder says

Barry Diller does not think highly of AT&T — not in the Time Warner acquisitions days, and not now amid a spinoff of its WarnerMedia into a merger with Discovery.

“Ma Bell should have been dead and buried by now,” Diller said Friday morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Diller added WarnerMedia is now in “better hands” — “How could it ever be in worse hands?” he said.

Diller said AT&T “drove” Jeff Zucker out of any real power, “which is such an incredible insult to do to someone running a company.” Zucker, the head of CNN, was considered a front runner to lead WarnerMedia before ex-Hulu CEO Jason Kilar was hired in April 2020.

Watch the relevant portion of Diller’s CNBC interview via the video below.

Diller’s pointed remarks came after AT&T agreed earlier this week to spin off WarnerMedia into an independent company that will merge with Discovery Inc. AT&T, which is about $170 billion in debt, will receive $43 billion as part of the deal.

This wasn’t the first time Diller has critiqued AT&T’s content strategy, either. Back in 2016, Diller said he wasn’t a fan of AT&T acquiring Time Warner, saying he didn’t think the telecom giant could “help” the media company if they merged. That $85 billion deal eventually closed in 2018. But now, only three years later, AT&T has made a hard pivot away from content with its Discovery deal.