Press Release

Public Knowledge to Testify in House AT&T DirecTV Merger Hearing

June 23, 2014

Tomorrow, Public Knowledge senior staff attorney, John Bergmayer, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in the hearing titled, “The Proposed Merger of AT&T and DirecTV.”

In Bergmayer's testimony he will call on Congress to be vigilant as multiple mergers come before it in the coming months. “Policymakers and the press are paying a lot of attention to rumored deals like Sprint/T-Mobile, and pending mergers like Comcast/TimeWarner Cable,” said Bergmayer. “But during this time of consolidation Congress must pay close attention to the specifics of each new deal as they are announced.”

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:

“This proposed deal fails the antitrust test, it fails the public interest test, and it raises many concerns.

AT&T and DirecTV directly compete in more than 60 local TV markets. This deal runs afoul of the Department of Justice's antitrust guidelines. It's hard to accept AT&T's claims that buying a direct rival can be good for competition.

Most of AT&T's public interest arguments are just re-statements of its existing policies and plans.  It really plans to do little more than upgrade its existing network.  These kinds of “commitments” are not enough to allow a deal like this to go through.

We're also concerned that some of AT&T's plans if the merger goes through would leave rural America with second-class communications service.  Additionally, if AT&T launches a new online video service with DirecTV, policymakers should be aware that AT&T has the means and motive to discriminate in favor of its own service and against competitors'.

John Bergmayer
Senior Staff Attorney
Public Knowledge 

Randall Stephenson
Chairman and CEO
AT&T Inc.

Michael White
Chairman and CEO
DirecTV 

Ross Lieberman
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
American Cable Association

A link to the testimony can be found here