With their $49 billion merger agreement passing its one-year anniversary and still bogged down in an interminable regulatory review process, AT&T (NYSE: T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) sent a memo to the FCC this week, pushing back on proposed deal conditions suggested by rivals including Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and Cogent Communications.
"Opponents' proposed conditions are not specific to the facts of this transaction, which does not involve the acquisition of broadband assets, broadband customers, or significant must-have content," read the memo addressed to the FCC on May 26. "Rather, they are designed only to advance unrelated business interests or specific policy agendas of the commenter, and opponents continue to use this transaction as a vehicle to present their unrelated requests. Because the record demonstrates that the merger is pro-competitive and will serve the public interest, the commission should reject opponents' self-serving demands."
Earlier this month, Dish and Cogent asked the FCC to require the combined AT&T and DirecTV to provide a standalone Internet product, with a set price and speed, for seven years.
AT&T has already agreed to provide such a service for three years following federal approval of the deal, but pushed back on any time mandate beyond that, noting that it's not getting any broadband infrastructure with its DirecTV purchase.
"In the absence of any increased consolidation of broadband ownership, there can be no justification to require AT&T to provide standalone broadband at below-market prices for an extended period," the memo states.
Meanwhile, the "shot clock" on the FCC's 180-day time window to review the purchase remains stopped at the 170-day mark. The review was halted to sort out the issue as to whether contracts from programming networks could be a transparent part of the review--an issue that was settled by a federal appeals court a month ago.
Broadcasting & Cable spoke to an unnamed FCC official, who said the shot clock is merely a guideline and can be stopped for a variety of reasons. The pub also spoke to an AT&T rep, who said the company remains unclear as to the reason for the continued stoppage.
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