Washington -- The Department of Justice last week threw its
support behind EchoStar Communications Corp.'s bid to gain control of a key
direct-broadcast satellite slot.
The DOJ, in comments filed with the Federal Communications
Commission last Thursday, said EchoStar's control of the DBS frequencies would not
"pose a risk to competition in the distribution of multichannel-video
In addition, the DOJ said, EchoStar's use of the DBS
license "could play a critical role" in enhancing the company's ability to
erode cable operators' 85 percent share of the market.
EchoStar is attempting to acquire the DBS license from News
Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. The DOJ went to court last year to block News from
contributing the license in a proposed merger with cable-backed PrimeStar Inc.
The DOJ urged the FCC to approve the EchoStar license
transfer "expeditiously," saying that PrimeStar's bid to control the
license "significantly delayed the pro-competitive use of this spectrum."