No hearings on pay-TV giants' mergers, House committee chair says

The top House Republican on telecom issues Wednesday said there are no plans to hold hearings on the proposed Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA)-Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and AT&T (NYSE: T)-DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) mergers, giving these proposed pay-TV industry mega-weddings one less key regulatory hurdle to overcome.

Resisting calls from House Democrats to conduct hearings on two mergers collectively valued at over $100 billion, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, told The Hill, "It's not really our intent to hold individual hearings on every merger."

"You've got these agencies that have the ability to do an independent look," he said, citing the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice. Walden's subcommittee, he added, is "trying to focus on the bigger policy issues."

Referring to bipartisan bills the subcommittee has passed, Walden noted, "We're not an expert panel on the nuances of mergers, but we are a pretty darn good panel on freeing up spectrum and trying to reform process."

House Democrats made their plea on Tuesday, querying not just Walden, but Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), too.

"The Communications and Technology Subcommittee with its oversight jurisdiction over the media and communications sector has a responsibility to ensure these proposals meet the public interest test and truly benefit American consumers," the Democrats wrote.

For more:
- read this story from The Hill

Related links:
Walden to reintroduce FCC reform bills
Spectrum sharing faces skepticism
AT&T promises FCC cheaper cable, more rural broadband, net neutrality compliance

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