The Department of Justice -- instead of the Federal Trade Commission -- will
review the proposed merger between EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV
Inc., a DOJ official said Tuesday.
The decision in favor of the DOJ wasn't a big surprise because it has
reviewed past direct-broadcast satellite merger proposals.
In 1998, the DOJ scuttled a deal that would have allowed PrimeStar Inc. --
the medium-power DBS carrier owned by major cable operators -- to purchase a key
DBS license from News Corp. and MCI Communications Corp.
The $25.8 billion DBS merger, announced Oct. 29, also needs the approval of
the Federal Communications Commission. FCC chairman Michael Powell has already
established a team of officials to review the deal.
Last week it was unclear whether the DOJ or the FTC would review the
EchoStar-DirecTV deal. On Tuesday, Lawrence Frankel, acting chief of the DOJ's
antitrust telecom task force, said the DOJ has been selected to conduct the