Boucher `Appalled' by FCC Merger Review

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Rep. Rich Boucher (D-Va.) said he's 'appalled' that the Federal
Communications Commission killed the merger between EchoStar Communications
Corp. and DirecTV Inc. but allowed AT&T Broadband and Comcast Corp. to sail
through the agency unharmed.

Boucher, who represents a rural district in southwest Virginia, was an outspoken proponent of the direct-broadcast satellite merger, which promised to bring local TV signals and high-speed Internet access to millions of rural customers that are too expensive for phone and cable companies to serve with advanced services.

'The FCC's disparate treatment of these cable and satellite mergers demonstrates vividly that the FCC still prefers to view the digital world through antiquated separate-technology lenses,' Boucher said.

Boucher complained that the commission gave the 27 million-subscriber cable deal 'cursory review' and faulted the agency for refusing to require AT&T Comcast Corp. to disclose its broadband-carriage agreement with AOL Time Warner Inc. for confidential review by third parties.

In approving the merger, the FCC said the cable merger
would benefit the public by spurring investment and advancing the rollout of
broadband facilities.

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