Advanced Television

Senator urges close scrutiny of AT&T/DirecTV deal

July 14, 2014

By Colin Mann

US Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) has urged key federal regulators to take a close look at AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV and determine if the deal is in consumers’ best interests.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), Franken asked the regulators to examine AT&T’s commitment to providing a standalone broadband Internet option. He said that forcing customers into bundled packages – which include services that consumers may not want – would continue to raise prices and limit consumer choice. Franken also said that regulators must look at the deal’s potential effects on net neutrality, particularly in the mobile market.

“I urge you to carefully scrutinise AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV to determine whether the deal is in consumers’ best interests,” he wrote.

“If AT&T is permitted to acquire DirecTV, the combined entity will have enhanced power in virtually every corner of the telecommunications market power that AT&T potentially could use to obtain an unfair advantage over consumers and competitors. As such, I have some concerns about this deal,” he advised.

In a hearing held in June to examine the proposed acquisition, Franken asked the CEO of AT&T pointed questions about what this deal would mean for competition, innovation, and the general public. He pressed the company to explain and clarify its commitments to fair consumer pricing and rural broadband, two issues he has fought hard for since joining the Senate. He also pressed AT&T to explain its history of interfering with local governments that want to build their own broadband networks.

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