Powell: AT&T-Comcast Ruling Close


Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell indicated Tuesday
that the agency is nearing action on the cable-television merger between
AT&T Broadband and Comcast Corp.

'[We're] not too far. It'll take a little more time,' Powell told reporters
at a downtown Washington, D.C., hotel.

The FCC is expected to approve the $72 million deal, which would make the new
cable firm the largest pay TV provider in the country, with 22 million

On Oct. 10, the FCC unanimously rejected the $26.8 billion direct-broadcast
satellite merger between EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc.
corporate parent Hughes Electronics Corp.

Because that merger has been referred to an administrative law judge, FCC
personnel have been barred from discussing it.

Nevertheless, Powell indicated that he had an open mind about giving a fresh
look to a restructured DBS merger presented for his consideration.

'That's an important point. The companies have never offered the commission
an alternative. We don't have a proposed plan or remedy before us,' he said.

EchoStar and DirecTV are hoping they can rework terms of the merger in an
effort to win Department of Justice approval, then seek FCC review of the
DOJ-cleared deal.