FCC poised to approve AT&T-DirecTV deal, create top pay-TV service in the U.S.

The FCC is set to announce that it has signed off on AT&T's (NYSE: T) $49 billion purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), ending a 14-month regulatory process.

According to multiple published reports, FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler is ready to circulate an order to the agency's other four commissioners. Once the merger is voted on and approved, the deal will finally be officially consummated. The Department of Justice has already signed off on the merger.

The DOJ's approval conditions have not yet been announced.

The approved deal would create the largest pay-TV operator in the U.S, with 26 million video customers, compared to just 22 million for current leader Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA). In all, AT&T would be absorbing 33 million satellite TV subscribers, once DirecTV's 12.5 million Latin American customers are factored in.

"We are pleased the Department of Justice has completed its review of our acquisition of DirecTV," an AT&T statement reads. "We look forward to gaining the approval of the Federal Communications Commission so we can quickly begin providing consumers with the benefits of this combination."

AT&T is already the second biggest wireless operator in the U.S. The company's last big regulatory go-around was in 2011, when it unsuccessfully sought to acquire T-Mobile US and ended up paying more than $4 billion in breakup fees and penalties.

"We expect the approval later this week or early next (likely a 5-0 vote) and we believe AT&T can close the deal as soon as the order is approved by a vote," wrote Jefferies analyst Jonathan Chaplin in a note to investors. "This is obviously a modest positive catalyst for AT&T; we have been getting calls from clients over the last few days who have been perplexed with the delay and have been concerned that some issue may have cropped up."

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story (sub. req.)
- read this Bloomberg story
- read this Reuters story

Related articles:
AT&T to offer $5-per-month Internet service to low-income customers to close DirecTV deal
AT&T, DirecTV extend merger end date … again
Report: AT&T-DirecTV deal could wrap up in 'days'

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