Washington -- Opponents of EchoStar Communications Corp.'s merger with
DirecTV Inc. staged a curbside rally Wednesday at the doorstep of the Department
of Justice here, where officials are reportedly entering the final stage of
reviewing the controversial deal.
Broadcasters, small cable operators, consumer groups, labor unions, ethnic
and religious groups and rural interests all converged on the Pennsylvania
Avenue sidewalk to denounce the merger as the creation of a direct-broadcast
satellite monopoly and to accuse EchoStar of being a union-busting, law-ignoring
'I cannot imagine a more clear-cut example of a violation of our competition
laws. We need to end this merger process now,' Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah.) told
the few-dozen listeners who attended the 30-minute event.
Matt Polka, president of the American Cable Association, said his membership
of family-owned small cable companies doesn't stand a chance in an economic
challenge with a combined EchoStar-DirecTV.
'Groups of this diverse spectrum do not come together like this unless their
purpose and their message are both credible and true,' Polka said.
The $25.8 billion merger requires the approval of the DOJ and the Federal
Communications Commission. Jim May, executive vice president of the National
Association of Broadcasters, a strong opponent of the merger, said the DOJ could
announce a decision this month.
EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said he remained confident that the merger
will gain regulatory approval.
'While our competitors engage in premature speculation about the merger, we
have a high degree of confidence in the integrity of the FCC and DOJ process and
that they will make the correct decision for the American consumer,' he