Consumers Group, Public Interest Org Respond To AT&T-DirecTV Deal

AT&TFollowing Sunday’s unanimous board approval of AT&T‘s $48.5 billion deal to buy satcaster DirecTV, DC-based public interest group Public Knowledge and Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, called for extensive analysis of the pact which is still subject to approval by DIRECTV shareholders and to review by the FCC, U.S. Department of Justice, some U.S. states and Latin American countries. The deal is expected to be made final within 12 months.

Related: AT&T Seals $48B+ Deal To Acquire DirecTV

Said Public Knowledge’s Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer:

“The industry needs more competition, not more mergers. The burden is on AT&T and DirecTV to show otherwise. We’ll have to analyze this carefully for potential harms both to the video programming and the wireless markets. The most obvious concern is that customers in U-Verse territories would lose a video competitor, though the transaction would have nationwide effects.

“Public Knowledge tends to view mergers with a skeptical eye. In this case, it will help to hear more definitive information about the companies’ plans. For example, does AT&T plan to frame this as allowing it to compete more effectively with Comcast? If so, that is yet another reason why policymakers should be skeptical of the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable transaction. We also need to know more about whether AT&T plans to offer some kind of wireless/pay TV bundle, and what kinds of services it could offer in both U-Verse territories and nationwide. Policymakers will have to ask a lot of tough questions when looking at this deal. (more…)

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