AT&T is in advanced talks to acquire Time Warner, according to three people briefed on the discussions, a deal that could be the largest in the United States this year.
The transaction is not yet final, said the people, who asked not to be identified by the New York Times.
Shares of Time Warner rose 7.8 percent Friday, then 3.4 percent more after hours, while AT&T shares were down 3.4 percent.
With the recent runup in its stock price, Time Warner has a stock market value of nearly $73 billion. AT&T is much larger, with a market value of $231 billion.
The apparent interest in Time Warner comes more than two years after AT&T announced a $48.5 billion deal for DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite television provider. The merger created the country's largest television distributor with about 26 million subscribers, surpassing Comcast.
Another large acquisition would be very difficult for AT&T to digest. The company has a debt load of about $130 billion, with just $7 billion in cash on hand.
Some analysts are skeptical that AT&T and Time Warner would actually reach a deal.
AT&T has said its "plate is full" in absorbing DirecTV, Mike McCormack, an analyst with Jefferies, said in a note. He also pointed out the high hurdles for the combined company to get regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission.