House Members Push for DBS Merger

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Four House members from rural states are urging federal regulators to approve
the satellite-TV merger between EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc.
parent Hughes Electronics Corp.

Support for the merger came from Reps. Rich Boucher (D-Va.), Bennie G.
Thompson (D-Miss.), Dave Hobson (R-Ohio), and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) in a
joint letter July 25 to Attorney General John Ashcroft and Federal
Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell.

'We hope you will review this proposal closely and approve the merger with
such conditions and consumer safeguards, embodied in a consent decree, as you
deem necessary to protect the consumer interest. The merger's benefits are real.
They should be embraced,' the lawmakers said.

The merger requires the approval of both the FCC and the Justice
Department.

In their letter, the lawmakers claimed that the merger would allow the new
satellite company to offer local TV signals in all 210 markets, up from about 40
markets today, and to roll out high-speed Internet access nationwide, especially
to communities that are not provided that service by cable and phone
companies.

'This advance would cover America's current tattered patchwork of broadband
access with a blanket service that could benefit every Internet consumer,' the
lawmakers said.

Although the merger has been attacked as the creation of a direct-broadcast
satellite video monopoly for millions of Americans without access to cable, the
House members said anti-competitive concerns can be addressed by requiring
EchoStar-DirecTV to offer 'nationwide, consistent rates' throughout the United
States.

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