EchoStar, DirecTV File with FCC


EchoStar Communications Corp. filed an application Monday with the Federal
Communications Commission seeking approval of its $25.8 billion merger with
DirecTV Inc. on the eve of two congressional hearings reviewing the competitive
impact of the deal.

In the application, the companies said the merger would not violate any FCC
rules and would promote the public interest in numerous ways, including boosting
competition to the cable industry.

'With the enormous efficiencies generated by this merger, we can accelerate
the delivery of local TV channels for more Americans, increase HDTV
[high-definition television] services and provide for a faster introduction of
high-speed Internet access,' EchoStar chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen said in a
prepared statement.

'We will also commit to continue our practice of offering uniform, nationwide
pricing,' he added. 'This merger is the best hope to provide true competition to
cable companies.'

The merger requires the approval of the FCC and the Department of

The FCC has already established a merger-review task force headed by W.
Kenneth Ferree, chief of its Cable Service Bureau.

On Tuesday, Ergen was scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary
Committee and the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

The National Association of Broadcasters has already announced its opposition
to the deal.

Northpoint Technology Ltd. -- which is seeking FCC approval to share
direct-broadcast satellite spectrum over the opposition of the DBS industry --
said Monday that the merger should be conditioned on EchoStar-DirecTV's agreeing
to deploy set-top boxes that are compatible with services offered by