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WASHINGTON, March 6 - U.S. senators on Wednesday raised serious doubts that satellite television provider EchoStar Communications Corp.'s bid to acquire rival Hughes Electronics Corp. would boost competition and ultimately benefit consumers.

At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, several senators raised concerns that the deal to combine EchoStar's DISH Network and Hughes' DirecTV service would eliminate competition in rural markets, leaving only one provider there, and could lead to higher prices.

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