Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that he had circulated to the other commissioners an order recommending the AT&T/DirecTV transaction be approved with conditions.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“We recognize Chairman Wheeler and the Department of Justice operate within the specific scope of their merger authority under existing statutes. We applaud any conditions that will help shed light on the opaque world of interconnection. We are gratified that the Commission appears to have addressed the merger specific issues related to AT&T's ability—through discriminatory application of data caps and through other means—to disadvantage rival over-the-top video competitors. Nevertheless, as reflected in our filings, we believe additional steps would be helpful to fully protect competition and consumers.
“While acknowledging the effort made by Chairman Wheeler to protect existing competition, encourage fiber deployment, and address affordability, no one should imagine that this has solved the underlying problem of our lack of competition. While we hope the proposed merger conditions are effective and enforced, they appear to show the limits of what certain types of merger conditions can do.
“We therefore call on the FCC to move expeditiously on industry proceedings that will do what merger conditions cannot—promote competition nationally and open the video marketplace to more low-cost, innovative and diverse broadband opportunities. We look forward to working with the FCC to establish industry-wide rules that fully promote competition for all.”
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