John Malone is the largest individual investor in DirecTV and a former kingpin of pay TV, so why not offer advice to the satcaster’s lone rival? That’s just what he did Thursday at Allen & Co.’s annual mogul gathering in Sun Valley. The Liberty Media chairman told reporters that he urged Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen to merge with DirecTV for the greater good of the pay-TV industry. “It would be good if DirecTV could combine with Echo or Dish or whatever Charlie calls it now just because scale economics in the media business drives down costs and makes it possible for larger investment,” Malone said, according to Bloomberg. “You need larger — I’m not saying monopoly players — but you need larger players.” Combining the satellite rivals would create the world’s largest pay-TV company, which Malone says would give the merged company increased power over programming and carriage decisions. It also would provide Dish with an opportunity to grow following its failed efforts to buy Sprint and a major stake in wireless broadband company Clearwire. But the FCC might object to a Dish-DirectTV combo. Regulators rejected their merger effort 11 years ago saying it would leave many rural viewers with just one pay TV provider. Malone clearly has deals on his mind. He’s known to be exploring scenarios to help Charter — in which Malone’s Liberty Media acquired a 27.3% stake in May — buy another cable power: Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, or Cox. Don’t touch that dial.
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