Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) have asked the Federal
Communications Commission 'to consider seriously' proposed changes to the merger
between EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics
But the request might have come too late. An aide to Rep. Chris Cannon
(R-Utah) said the Department of Justice called Cannon to say the department
planned to go to court Thursday to block the DBS merger.
Kohl and DeWine -- who applauded the FCC's Oct. 10 decision to reject the
merger as initially proposed -- wrote FCC chairman Michael Powell Oct. 30 urging
him to evaluate modifications to the deal.
EchoStar is reportedly willing to transfer satellite assets to Cablevision
Systems Corp., a cable operator that has plans to use satellites to provide
local TV signals nationally in combination with dozens of high-definition-TV
The proposal is designed to counter arguments that the EchoStar-DirecTV deal
would be monopolistic for millions of U.S. households.
'Although we have not had the opportunity to examine the proposals personally
and cannot independently evaluate their merit, we believe it would be
appropriate for the [FCC] to consider seriously the revised application and
determine whether or not it changes the competitive implications of the deal as
part of its determination as to whether the revised proposal is in the public
interest,' the letter said.
Last week, Powell said the direct-broadcast satellite firms had not presented
the agency with any merger revisions.
Kohl is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Antirust, Business Rights and
Competition, and DeWine is the panel's ranking member.