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Another lawmaker wrote federal officials outlining his concerns about the proposed $26 billion merger between EchoStar and DirecTV.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri told Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft that if the merger is approved without clearly-defined consumer protections, "many rural consumers would be at the mercy of an unregulated monopoly."

Graves said he is supportive of the development and build-out of high-speed Internet services, especially for rural areas. "Competition and market-based incentives must drive the continued evolution and delivery of these next-generation systems," Graves said. "However, an unregulated monopoly as currently proposed in the EchoStar/DirecTV merger could actually prevent this rollout to rural consumers."

The July 25 letter is a switch from a letter written in April, in which Graves said the merger should win consideration from the FCC and Justice Department antitrust officials, along as safeguards are in place to protect consumers.

Graves spokesperson Jewell Patek said that during the past few months, Graves has met with constituents worried about the transaction, and has studied the merger proposal more closely. "Since then, his merger concerns have increased," Patek said.

In response, EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said the merger will provide enormous benefits for Missouri residents, especially those in rural areas, bringing local TV channels via satellite to the entire state for the first time and offering affordable high-speed Internet access. He also pointed out that numerous Missouri state senators and representatives have written the FCC in support for the merger, as well as U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay.

From SkyReport (Used with Permission)
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