WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Free Press filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to deny AT&T's proposed merger with DIRECTV, stating that the deal harms the public interest.
The Free Press petition notes that the proposed merger is a clear and undisputed violation of the antitrust guidelines. It would concentrate the pay-TV market in areas where AT&T's U-verse operates, creating extreme upward pricing pressures, which would also harm customers of other pay-TV providers.
Free Press also disputes AT&T’s claims that it needs to acquire DIRECTV to expand broadband deployment. AT&T made similar claims in an attempt to sway regulators to approve its takeover of T-Mobile — claims that have been proven false.
The petition to deny is available at http://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/Free_Press_14-90_Petition_to_Deny_FINAL_9-16-14.pdf.
Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:
“AT&T's proposed acquisition of DIRECTV fails the antitrust analysis in a spectacular fashion. Indeed, it fares worse than the company's failed merger with T-Mobile.
“AT&T's attempt to dangle regulatory candy in front of the FCC — in the form of broadband deployment — echoes promises it made during its failed takeover of T-Mobile. Here AT&T is again making the case that eliminating a competitor in a near $70 billion transaction is the only way it can make what amounts to small deployment increases. These supposed benefits are actions AT&T would take in the absence of the merger and they don’t come close to offsetting the harms of this transaction.
“AT&T could deploy its U-verse service throughout its entire service territory and offer the broadband bundles it says it needs to offer for a fraction of the price it’s paying for DIRECTV. The FCC's approval of this transaction would not only hurt competition, it would also lead to less broadband deployment than if the Commission denied the application.
“AT&T and DIRECTV are much more likely to innovate, invest and compete if the FCC doesn’t sign off on their merger.”