EchoStar, Hughes Plan Eleventh-Hour Sops to Appease FCC

08 October 2002

Key concessions are being hastily cobbled together by America’s wannabe satellite TV bedmates EchoStar and Hughes Electronics, parent of DirecTV, in an effort to comply with the antitrust requirements laid down by the Federal Communications Commission [WAMN: 07-Oct-02].

“Major revisions” to the merger proposals are to be discussed with the FCC, it was revealed Monday. The ardent duo have until the end of this month to convince the FCC – and the Department of Justice which is also reviewing the deal – that their marriage is in the interest of US consumers and competition in general.

EchoStar ceo Charlie Ergen, whose audacious swoop on Hughes last year left rival suitor Rupert Murdoch standing, spent two days last week discussing the merger with a skeptical DoJ – although Ergen was not prepared to say what concessions might now be on the table.

According to an EchoStar spokesperson: “There are many important consumer benefits at stake. So we are asking the FCC not to rush to judgment before the DoJ completes its review.”

Onlooking antitrust pundits are doubtful that the concessions likely to be on offer will be sufficient to reverse federal opposition to a deal that would unite the nation’s largest and second largest satellite operators.

Meanwhile, there is said to be an increasing smacking of lips at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation where the finance department is busy Tippexing the last zero from the check it made out last year to Hughes’ owner, General Motors.

Data sourced from: Multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff