FCC to Seek Comment on New DBS Plan

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The Federal Communications Commission is expected to seek public comment soon on EchoStar Communications Corp.'s revised proposal to merge with DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp.

"You can expect us to do that shortly," an FCC source said Tuesday.

In October, the FCC effectively rejected the direct-broadcast satellite merger as anticompetitive but gave the companies 30 days to submit a revised plan.

Last Wednesday, EchoStar and Hughes proposed to divest certain satellite assets and execute national and local programming-resale agreements with Cablevision Systems Corp. in order to obtain merger approval from the FCC.

Cablevision is planning to launch a DBS satellite in March and to commence service by next December.

In rejecting the DBS merger, FCC sources indicated that Cablevision's DBS plans were insufficient to offset the merger's anticompetitive harms. However, EchoStar claimed that its new proposal is a broad antitrust remedy that the commission is seeing for the first time.

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