PrimeStar Still Hopes for High-Power DBS Approval


Washington -- Sources close to PrimeStar Partners L.P. saidlast week that the direct-broadcast satellite company's deal with News Corp. couldstill win government approval, despite new reports of Department of Justice opposition.

"We do not have a sense yet," a PrimeStar sourcesaid, "that this has hardened into a 'We are absolutely against this at allcosts' [situation]."

Sources said some career lawyers within the DOJ "havesubstantial problems with" PrimeStar's linking up with Rupert Murdoch'sNews Corp. to control the last DBS slot with full-CONUS (continental United States)coverage.

But, sources said, economists in the DOJ's antitrustdivision were still combing through the deal, and they had not yet issued an analysis.

Sources added that even if some lawyers at the DOJ want toblock the deal, they might consider granting approval if PrimeStar entered into a consentdecree that placed behavioral restrictions on PrimeStar and its cable-operator backers.

At press time, PrimeStar president Dan O'Brien couldnot be reached for comment.

Mickey Alpert, president of Washington, D.C.-based Alpert& Associates, said the government is misguided if it blocks PrimeStar's move tohigh-power DBS in the guise of protecting consumers. "The consumer is much better offwith three [DBS] choices than with two," Alpert said.

Monica Hogan contributed to this story.