Last week, the Federal Communications Commission formally voted to approve the merger of AT&T and DirecTV, with conditions.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“As we stated earlier, the Commission did not adopt all of the conditions on this merger that we think it could have. However, we are hopeful that, with proper enforcement, some of the conditions on this deal can help promote the public interest.
“Commissioner Clyburn was instrumental in promoting the public interest in this transaction in several respects. She was a strong advocate for a low-cost connectivity program, which could provide a basic level of service to those customers who need it. Although ultimately, Public Knowledge believes that all Americans should have access to affordable, truly-high speed broadband, low-cost basic options can be a valuable interim step.
“Additionally, we endorse Commissioner Clyburn's call for an inquiry into some of the programming issues that were raised in this proceeding. As a large distributor of programming, DirecTV, and now AT&T, can use its programming contracts to influence how programming is distributed nationwide. But this is not an AT&T-specific problem: Contractual provisions that contain 'most favored nation' clauses or restrictions on Internet delivery can have an adverse effect on competition. On the other side, large programmers can use bundling to squeeze out small programmers and demand higher fees. This inquiry can help the Commission better understand the systemic problems that are driving up consumer bills and holding back video competition.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at email@example.com or 405-249-9435.