Contact: Bartees Cox (o) 202-861-0020 (c) 202-815-6457
For Immediate Release
May 18, 2014
Public Knowledge Statement on AT&T/DIRECTV Merger
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
"The industry needs more competition, not more mergers. The burden is on AT&T and DirecTV to show otherwise. We'll have to analyze this carefully for potential harms both to the video programming and the wireless markets. The most obvious concern is that customers in U-Verse territories would lose a video competitor, though the transaction would have nationwide effects.
"Public Knowledge tends to view mergers with a skeptical eye. In this case, it will help to hear more definitive information about the companies' plans. For example, does AT&T plan to frame this as allowing it to compete more effectively with Comcast? If so, that is yet another reason why policymakers should be skeptical of the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable transaction. We also need to know more about whether AT&T plans to offer some kind of wireless/pay TV bundle, and what kinds of services it could offer in both U-Verse territories and nationwide. Policymakers will have to ask a lot of tough questions when looking at this deal.
"This appears to be becoming at a particularly complicated time, not only because of Comcast/TWC (and persistent rumors of Sprint/T-Mobile), but in light of the FCC's plans for the incentive auction. AT&T already has overwhelming spectrum holdings relative to most of the wireless industry. AT&T will need to explain how this merger wouldn't harm wireless competition, and how whatever new services it plans to offer by combining with DirecTV would offset any harms to wireless and video competition."
Public Knowledge is a Washington D.C.- based public interest group working to defend consumer rights in the emerging digital culture. More information is available at http://www.publicknowledge.org