DISH, DirecTV renew merger talks

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AT&T’s DirecTV and Charlie Ergen’s DISH Network have reportedly resumed talks regarding merging their DTH operations – and a deal could be close.

The New York Post says it has learned that discussions are again taking place despite past anti-trust concerns that such discussions would never pass muster with the competition authorities.

The Post says that two years, ago similar talks were stymied when the US Department of Justice persuaded the pair that 5G’s introduction would make life, and a merger – eventually – easier.

Now, says the Post, insiders at the two pay-TV giants are much more optimistic and that a merger could pass regulatory muster given that the influence and market position of both broadcasters have waned.

There’s also a considerable push from investment house TPG (the former Texas Pacific Grp) which now owns 20 per cent of DirecTV, and which the newspaper says wants to see a return on that investment.

However, the Post also suggests that DISH’s chairman Charlie Ergen is “dragging his feet” over any deal and is seeking a larger slice of an eventual shareholding.

The positions – and influence – of the two broadcasters is shrinking year-by-year. DirecTV has seen its subscriber number evaporate from 25 million back in 2017 to just 15 million today. Dish TV has some 8.4 million subs, down from 13 million. “Both are decaying,” says a source to the Post.

But also potentially making it easier to get a merger approved is the fact that today’s OTT competition is widespread and popular thanks to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Starz and even YouTube. New players such as Comcast’s Peacock only further steal subs from DirecTV and DISH.

DISH Network’s share price rose almost 6 per cent in trading January 11th.


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