For months, there's been a popular notion held among media analysts that the proposed merger of AT&T (NYSE: T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) is enjoying a smooth regulatory review process largely because all of the focus is on the prospective Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.
Analyzing Federal Communications Commission filings, and speaking to several sources inside the Department of Justice, Reuters says AT&T and DirecTV's proposed $49 billion deal is indeed getting far less scrutiny.
FCC disclosures obtained by Reuters show that the agency has conducted more than 300 meetings with Comcast-TWC (NYSE: TWC) deal supporters and opponents. Conversely, only about 70 have been held regarding AT&T-DirecTV.
"Each merger would create a company controlling more than a quarter of the pay TV market," Reuters says. "But it is the Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) deal that has triggered FCC and Justice Department inquiries resulting in hours-long depositions, hundreds of meetings and nearly 90,000 comments, according to disclosures and people who have met with the regulators."
Control of the U.S. broadband market is key to the discrepancy, with a combined Comcast and TWC controlling nearly 40 percent of the market, compared with 17 percent for a united AT&T and DirecTV.
"The customers aren't anxious, and the competitors aren't rattled," former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt said to Reuters, referring to the latter proposed deal. "The FCC or the Justice Department will be looking for markets where this will have an impact, and hardly anyone is telling them that there are such markets."
- read this Reuters story
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