It appears to be smooth sailing for AT&T in its acquisition of DirecTV, as the merger has reportedly cleared one major hurdle and is about to clear the last.
AT&T first agreed to acquire DirecTV for nearly $49 million last May.
The DoJ’s job in merger reviews is to determine if the deals violate antitrust law – so it looks like AT&T and DirectTV are good on that front. Of course, the DoJ isn’t the only regulatory agency that the companies must assuage. They also have to worry about the Federal Communications Commission and its independent review of whether or not the deal serves the public interest.
Reuters says that approval is coming very soon – as early as next week. It’s more likely that AT&T had to make concessions with the FCC.
On June 29th, AT&T said it had had a talk with the FCC, wherein they discussed “the substantial, direct, and verifiable benefits that the AT&T/DIRECTV merger will deliver to tens of millions of consumers.”
“We also discussed AT&T’s voluntary commitments, described in the record, which will provide the Commission with further assurance that the transaction will serve the public interest and deliver benefits to consumers.”
Streaming video may play a part in said conditions. Netflix recently raised objections to the merger in its current form, saying that the deal “would result in a combined entity with increased incentive and ability to harm online video distributors and other edge-based Internet content that Applicants view as a threat to their broadband and video programming businesses.”
The merger would create the biggest pay-TV company in the country.
It’s possible that AT&T will have to agree to some stipulations protecting online video companies.
The AT&T/DirecTV deal won’t create the broadband-controlling monster that the Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal would’ve created. The FCC basically killed that deal, and Net Neutrality was a major concern.