AT&T CEO Pitches Lawmakers On Benefits Of DirecTV Merger

By Josh Long Comments
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**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q1 2014.**

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson this week told lawmakers on Capitol Hill his company’s proposed $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV is unlike most mergers because the companies have complementary assets.

AT&T, which has 5.7 million U-verse TV customers, and DirecTV – with roughly 20 million subscribers – don’t compete against each other in most of the country, Stephenson said in prepared statements before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on Tuesday.

Comcast has made the same pitch to the FCC about its pending acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The No. 1 cableco has said the nation’s two largest cable companies don’t battle for business because their territories don’t overlap.

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, if approved, could exert competitive pressures on AT&T. Through the $45 billion acquisition, Comcast will be able to offer rival services to two-thirds of AT&T’s U-verse video homes, according to AT&T’s public interest statement filed with the FCC.

In his statement to the antitrust committee, Stephenson said the DirecTV deal will make AT&T a stronger competitor in the television market, reduce content costs and exert pressure on prices in the market. But upon questioning from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Stephenson stopped short of promising that the company would pass on all the savings to consumers, the New York Times reported.

The FCC and U.S. Justice Department are reviewing the merger to determine whether it is in the public interest and passes antitrust scrutiny.

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