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Bob Phillips, president and CEO of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, attended Wednesday's hearing on the proposed merger between EchoStar and DirecTV. While he didn't testify, Phillips urged lawmakers and others to carefully eye the impacts of the deal.

"Last week's promise by EchoStar/Hughes to guarantee local TV programming in all 210 US markets is a good first step, but should no remove our focus from the other serious shortcomings of this potential merger," Phillips said in a statement released after the hearing.

"If this merger is approved, one company will control more than 90 percent of the national market for satellite TV and high-speed Internet service, and a full 100 percent of the market in smaller, rural communities," he said. "Monopolies on that scale inevitably lead to higher prices, less innovation and lower quality service. This merger should not be permitted."

Concerning EchoStar's local TV promise, Phillips said, "While NRTC believes it is important for all 210 markets to be served, the best way to get there is through two viable, competing entities."

Phillips also questioned EchoStar's promise of a national pricing plan to hold down prices for rural consumers. "The promise of national pricing, particularly without any enforcement mechanism, can easily be gamed and would never deliver the benefits of true market competition," Phillips said. "Even EchoStar has said there could be many local exceptions to a national pricing plan, which renders the promise meaningless."

From SkyReport (Used with permission)
 
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