AT&T-DirecTV to FCC: We're not like that other merger

Striking a defensive tone eerily similar to another FCC petition issued by Comcast three weeks ago, AT&T (NYSE: T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) tried to distance their proposed merger from that being undertaken by Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC).

In its 82-page brief, filed to the Federal Communications Commission Thursday, AT&T and DirecTV outlined elements they believe "sets this transaction apart" from the other big pay-TV deal.

"To begin with, unlike the Comcast/Time Warner Cable transaction, this merger does not add existing broadband assets to AT&T's broadband network, and thus does not increase AT&T's market presence in broadband," states the filing, which adds that neither AT&T or DirecTV have a programming arm like Comcast's NBCUniversal, either.

"Therefore, contrary to some opponents' claims, the transaction simply does not affect AT&T's ability to foreclose [Internet-based] providers," the filing adds.

However, just as Comcast did with its voluminous manifesto in late September, AT&T and DirecTV used the opportunity to target some of its merger's critics. Most notably, it cited Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) for tying its interconnection spat with AT&T to the deal.

"Those claims are not only irrelevant to this transaction; they are inaccurate. AT&T did not, as Netflix asserts, allow Netflix traffic to become congested," the filing states. "Rather, Netflix's own business decisions caused its traffic to spike to the point where it was overtaxing the connections Netflix had selected to route its traffic to AT&T's network. To resolve this issue, AT&T and Netflix entered into a commercially reasonable long-term contract under terms favorable to Netflix. Now, even by Netflix's own account, the new arrangement is working well for Netflix and its customers. Nothing about this history suggests the need to apply conditions on this transaction."

For more:
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story
- read this story from The Hill

Related links:
DirecTV and NFL ink Sunday Ticket deal: 8 years at $1.5B per year
Analysts: AT&T-DirecTV deal benefiting from Comcast-TWC heat
AT&T-DirecTV combo promises new challenges for Comcast-TWC merger
AT&T faces merger heat from Netflix and former cellular partners but gets Microsoft's blessing
Comcast says merger foes guided by self-interest, not consumer benefit
AT&T-DirecTV merger may provide much needed cover for Comcast

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