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Four House members from rural states are urging federal regulators to approve the satellite-TV merger between EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp.

Support for the merger came from Reps. Rich Boucher (D-Va.), Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Dave Hobson (R-Ohio), and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) in a joint letter July 25 to Attorney General John Ashcroft and Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell.

'We hope you will review this proposal closely and approve the merger with such conditions and consumer safeguards, embodied in a consent decree, as you deem necessary to protect the consumer interest. The merger's benefits are real. They should be embraced,' the lawmakers said.

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