AT&T, DirecTV officials make merger pitch in back-to-back congressional hearings

Top officials for AT&T (NYSE: T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) are set to make the case for their proposed $49 billion merger in back-to-back hearings in the House and Senate Tuesday, but will be greeted by testimony from several dissonant voices.

Releasing his planned testimony on Monday, AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson reiterates themes he has stated on numerous occasions: that this is a merger of complimentary parts that need each other, and that it will provide benefits for consumers.

"By integrating DirecTV's video capabilities with our strength in fixed and mobile broadband delivery, we will create a new competitor with unprecedented capabilities," Stephenson says. "And, the substantial cost savings and other synergies associated with the transaction will allow us to price all of our services more competitively, which will drive cable and other competitors to lower their prices and improve their own offerings."

In similarly prepared testimony, meanwhile, DirecTV chairman and CEO Michael White will pitch the case for consumer convenience--customers of a combined AT&T/DirecTV won't face the same installation hassles associated with buying video and broadband services from multiple providers, for example.

"DirecTV is often ready to install a new subscriber's video service before the broadband provider is ready to install the corresponding broadband service," White states. "As a result, customers must arrange separate installations, which need to be scheduled through separate service calls. Then, the customer must wait at home for separate technicians to arrive during separate installation windows, usually on different days. Moreover, when the video installer arrives before the broadband installer, the first installer cannot connect our Internet-enabled set-top boxes. Either the customer or the broadband technician must do so, and they may be unfamiliar with the process or unaware that this connection even needs to be made."

Opposition will come from, among others, Writers Guild of America West president Christopher Keyser, who will tell House and Senate leaders, according to Multichannel News, that the merger "threatens the process of our most vital communication platforms and will stifle the creativity, independence and innovation enabled by online video."

For more:
- read this Variety story
- read this Multichannel News story

Related links:
Analyst casts doubt on AT&T's professed bundling efficiencies
Senate sets June 24 hearing for proposed AT&T-DirecTV merger
AT&T promises FCC cheaper cable, more rural broadband, net neutrality compliance