Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 29, 2014

Leahy Gives AT&T/DirecTV Deal a Wary Eye

luncheon004 071113 445x297 Leahy Gives AT&T/DirecTV Deal a Wary Eye

Leahy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee sounds skeptical about AT&T’s plan to buy DirecTV. In a statement this morning, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said:

DirecTV is a nationwide competitor with cable and plays an important role in providing television service to rural areas like Vermont.  With this latest proposed merger, I am concerned that the telecommunications marketplace is trending even further toward one that favors big companies over consumers.  I will closely monitor the FCC and the antitrust authorities’ response to this announcement.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will be looking closely at this transaction.

Leahy’s statement had a slightly sharper tone than the joint statement from Republicans and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, which is planning a hearing on the merger:

Yesterday’s announcement of the proposed merger between AT&T and DirecTV comes on the heels of the House Judiciary Committee’s review of the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger. The proposed AT&T and DirecTV merger would be the fourth largest telecommunications merger in history. The Committee has a strong record of reviewing proposed transactions that could have a significant impact on consumers and the competitive marketplace. We intend to continue that record by conducting a hearing to examine the proposed AT&T and DirecTV merger to ensure that consumers’ interests are protected in an increasingly consolidated telecommunications marketplace.

Vox’s Timothy B. Lee writes that the $48.5 billion purchase is “mostly about two things: economies of scale and bundling.”

Kevin Fitchard at Gigaom has more on bundling: “It wants to tie together as many of the two companies’ products and services as possible.”

Re/code writes about how AT&T is pitching the deal, which it writes the company plans to spend $67 billion to buy including debt.

Saba Hamedy and Amy Kaufman at the the Los Angeles Times reports on consumer and expert reaction and writes that:

The deals by Comcast and AT&T are expected to spark even more consolidation. Other companies seen as potential merger candidates include satellite broadcaster Dish Network, telecom giant Verizon and cable operator Cox Communications. … But any kind of dealmaking is being met with concern. There’s already growing consumer frustration with not just the lack of choice, but that rates will go higher with just a handful of companies controlling pay TV.

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