Powell: DBS Merger Decision Close

Author:
Publish date:

Appearing Friday on Fox News Channel, Federal Communications Commission
chairman Michael Powell said a decision on the merger between EchoStar
Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc.'s corporate parent, Hughes Electronics
Corp., could be announced in a few days.

'I think we are close enough in our review that we could be days away from a
decision, at least at the FCC,' Powell said in an interview with Fox News' Neil
Cavuto.

Powell's comments came in the wake of reports that FCC staff is recommending
rejection of the direct-broadcast satellite merger as anti-competitive in that
it would leave millions of American households with just one DBS provider.
Department of Justice staff are reportedly opposed to the deal, too.

Although pressed by Cavuto to confirm those reports, Powell declined.

'I genuinely believe that an answer from the commission is quite imminent ...
hopefully, in a matter of days,' he said.

FCC rejection of the $25.8 billion deal would not come as a surprise. Both
Powell and Media Bureau chief Kenneth Ferree made statements last November that
the deal would create 'significant concentration.'

Cavuto also quizzed Powell on whether the FCC would be amenable to allowing
News Corp. to swoop in and purchase DirecTV in the event that the
EchoStar-DirecTV deal is killed by regulators.

The FCC's job, Powell said, was not to handicap mergers in advance, but to
review transactions as presented to the agency for approval.

'No transaction in advance is thinkable or unthinkable,' he
added.

Related