News

DirecTV Deal Is at the FCC

2/02/2007 7:00 PM Eastern

About a month after announcing that it would exchange its controlling interest in DirecTV Group to Liberty Media in an $11 billion deal, News Corp. filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission last week, adding in the filing that the new owners would abide by the same conditions imposed by the commission when News Corp. gained control of the satellite giant nearly three years ago.

News Corp. agreed to swap its 38.4% interest in DirecTV, $550 million in cash and three regional sports networks in Pittsburgh, Denver and Seattle for Liberty's 19% voting interest in News Corp. on Dec. 22.

In the filing, News Corp. said Liberty has agreed to adhere to program-access and carriage conditions for the regional sports networks imposed by the FCC in 2004 when it approved News Corp.'s acquisition of Hughes Electronics' controlling interest in DirecTV.

Those conditions include not offering regional or national programming exclusively to any multichannel video provider; not discriminating against unaffiliated programming services in selection, pricing or carriage terms on the DirecTV platform; and agreeing to independent arbitration in the event of a dispute regarding access to regional sports networks.

Upon the closing of the transaction, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, chief operating officer Peter Chernin and chief financial officer David DeVoe will resign from DirecTV's board of directors and be replaced by Liberty chairman John Malone, CEO Greg Maffei and one other designee selected by Liberty. The filing said current DirecTV CEO Chase Carey is expected to stay on in that role, as well as remain on the board of directors.

In making its case that the transaction serves the public interest, News Corp. pointed to how the deal will “reduce concerns regarding access to 'must have' regional sports networks, reduce vertical integration, and foster DirecTV's development and deployment of advanced services valued by subscribers.”

September