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On Tuesday, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association passed a resolution opposing the merger of EchoStar and Hughes Electronics, parent of DBS service DirecTV.

NRECA is a national service organization representing the nation's consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to more than 35 million people, mainly in rural areas. During a session that was part of the NRECA's 60th annual meeting in Dallas, the association's membership voted to oppose the merger.

The association's resolution said the proposed DirecTV/EchoStar combination "will eliminate multichannel video distribution (MVPD) provider service and broadband Internet competition in rural areas. As a result, rural Americans could receive lower-quality MVPD service and Internet access at higher prices when compared to the services available to urban and suburban consumers."

Bob Phillips, president and CEO of NRTC, cheered the NRECA's move. "We are pleased to have so many representatives of rural America leverage their collective and cooperative strength against this potential merger."

NRTC was founded in 1986 by the National Rural Utility Cooperative Finance Corporation and NRECA, on behalf of the nation's rural utilities who recognized a need for advanced telecommunications and information technology solutions in rural America.

In response, EchoStar spokesperson Marc Lumpkin said the company is surprised the organization "would have concerns over a plan that provides high-speed Internet access and local TV channels to their rural constituents.

"As NRECA states in their release, phone companies and cable companies are not going to deliver local TV channels or affordable broadband access to more than 40 million homes in the U.S. that remain unserved today," he said. "Only with the merger of EchoStar and DirecTV will all American households have access to their local TV channels and affordable broadband, and all at nationwide pricing."

Lumpkin added, "Once NRECA reviews the numerous benefits the merger provides all Americans, we're certain their concerns will be alleviated."

From SkyReport (Used with permission)
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