FCC Opens Comment Period for DBS Merger


The Federal Communications Commission released a notice Friday seeking public
comment on EchoStar Communications Corp.'s proposed acquisition of DirecTV

The FCC said the first round of comments was due Feb. 4 and the second round
Feb. 25.

As proposed, the merger would create a direct-broadcast satellite firm with
at least 14.9 million subscribers.

The new company plans to provide all local TV stations in 100 markets, 12
high-definition TV channels and nationwide two-broadband service.

Because the deal would reduce the DBS market from two players to just one,
members of Congress are calling for strict conditions to protect consumers
without cable. The National Association of Broadcasters is urging rejection of
the deal.

The FCC's public-comment period would give both critics and supporters the
opportunity to make their views known to the FCC.

When the deal was announced Oct. 29, FCC chairman Michael Powell voiced
concerns that the merger would lead to significant concentration.

The merger also requires the approval of the Department of Justice, which
conducts its reviews in private and doesn't even disclose whether a merger has
been submitted for review.