Report: Former Fox chief Chernin can make the AT&T-DirecTV merger work

Is former News Corp. president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin the man who is going to make the $49.5 billion merger of AT&T (NYSE: T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) work?

That's the speculation put forth by Deadline Hollywood media editor David Lieberman Thursday morning. Now chairman and CEO of the global media investment, management and production firm The Chernin Group, Chernin in April carved a $500 million deal with AT&T (NYSE: T) to create a new joint over-the-top programming initiative.

Lieberman postulates that Chernin was brought in with the DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) purchase in mind. And as it seeks to make DirecTV a central component to a programming service that leverages wireless mobile devices, it will be the popular Chernin--and not so much DirecTV--who liaisons the content relationships.

"It's hard to think of a pay TV provider that has locked horns with programmers more, or at least more prominently, than DirecTV," notes Lieberman citing the satellite carrier's testy, high-profile content licensing battles with companies like Viacom over the last few years.

Chernin, Lieberman writes, "has the perfect résumé for a large job at a combined entity. He knows DirecTV having served as COO of News Corp during the period from 2003 to 2006 when it was controlled by Rupert Murdoch's company. He's comfortable in the digital world. At News Corp he drove the effort to create Hulu, and bid for it in the company's aborted auction last year. He sits on the boards of Twitter and Pandora, as well as American Express.

"What's more, he's well known and liked in Hollywood. That could give AT&T a leg up on competitors looking for programming deals for a national OTT service--especially if AT&T wants to just offer a few channels to keep the price low, potentially cannibalizing the lucrative full pay TV bundle."

For more:
- Deadline has this story

Related links:
AT&T's $500M OTT video venture with Chernin Group could center on mobile services
Peter Chernin offers $500M for Hulu
Chernin Group takes control of Crunchyroll

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