US regulators back $49b AT&T-DirecTV megadeal

Order recommended approval with certain conditions.

Afp July 23, 2015
US regulators said they were set to back the $49 billion merger of AT&T and DirecTV, clearing the way for a powerful player in Internet and televisionn. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: US regulators said Tuesday they were set to back the $49 billion merger of AT&T and DirecTV, clearing the way for a powerful player in internet and television.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement that and order was circulated at the agency recommending approval of the mega-deal with certain conditions.

Wheeler said the merger would “directly benefit consumers by bringing more competition to the broadband marketplace.”

“If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, 12.5 million customer locations will have access to a competitive high-speed fiber connection,” the FCC chief said.

The Justice Department said in a separate statement it would not challenge the merger.

“After an extensive investigation, we concluded that the combination of AT&T’s land-based internet and video business with DirecTV’s satellite-based video business does not pose a significant risk to competition,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the antitrust division.

“The commitments that the proposed FCC order includes, if adopted, will provide significant benefits to millions of subscribers.” The news comes three months after regulators blocked a massive merger plan of cable giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable, claiming it would concentrate too much market power in the market for high-speed Internet.

But merging AT&T and DirecTV could create competition because the telecom giant and satellite broadcaster do not have the same geographical territories as the traditional cable firms.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd,  2015.

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