AT&T, Comcast: DOJ Can't Block Deal


AT&T Corp. and Comcast Corp. said Tuesday that they may close their
cable-television merger because the Department of Justice has allowed a waiting
period to expire without taking action against the deal.

'The waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act
(the HSR Act) applicable to the combination of Comcast Corp. and AT&T
Broadband has expired,' the cable firms said in a joint statement. 'At this
time, the HSR Act no longer prohibits the parties from closing the proposed

An AT&T spokesman said the HSR deadline expired Sept. 16 at midnight.

DOJ spokeswoman Dana Perino said the Antitrust Division had not concluded its

'The Antitrust Division currently has an open investigation of the proposed
transaction. The investigation remains open, and we are seeking to reach a
decision as soon as possible,' she said.

In their statement, the two MSOs pledged to cooperate with additional DOJ
requests for information.

The merger between AT&T Corp.'s cable division and Comcast would create
the largest pay TV provider in the United States, with 22 million

The cable merger also requires the approval of the Federal Communications

In a prepared statement, EchoStar Communications Corp. said its merger with
DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp. should be approved if the DOJ has
no intention of blocking the AT&T-Comcast deal.

'This is all the more reason why our proposed EchoStar/Hughes merger should
be approved, as it is the best chance the American consumer has in terms of
receiving effective competition to the cable giants,' EchoStar spokesman Marc
Lumpkin said.

The Consumers Union released a statement stating that the DOJ failed to
protect consumers from a cable combination that will have too much power over
video programming and Internet-based services.