Placating FCC, Malone steps down from DirecTV board

Cable icon and Liberty Media Chairman John Malone is quitting the DirecTV board and reducing his 24.3 percent voting interest to 3 percent in a move designed to satisfy concerns the FCC placed on Liberty after it grabbed a stake in DirecTV and created overlapping interests in Puerto Rico.

Besides Malone, who ruled cable for years with Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), Liberty Global President-CEO Greg Maffei and Liberty Global board member Paul Gould will also resign from the board.

On the surface, at least, the moves appear to be little more than what's needed to keep the FCC at bay while operating both Liberty Media and DirecTV in Puerto Rico. Late last year, however, a flurry of speculation arose about whether DirecTV was in play and whether a major telco like AT&T or Verizon would be the suitor. With Verizon cutting back on its FiOS rollout and Malone's history of involvement in major deals, that speculation may again bubble to the top.

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