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ATT, DirecTV Mega-Merger May Go Through 82

An anonymous reader writes: Hot on the heels of Comcast's failed attempt to swallow up Time Warner Cable, AT&T's pursuit of satellite provider DirecTV is plowing forward. What would be the result of a wireline and cellular mega-monopoly buying one of only two subscription satellite TV providers? Has to be worse than a Comcast/TWC marriage ... at least there, the territories and services offered didn't overlap at all, but AT&T offers voice, data, and television in many markets already. Adding satellite would stifle competition for television services (and to a lesser extent, because satellite is only best suited for rural installations, data).
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ATT, DirecTV Mega-Merger May Go Through

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  • Has to be worse? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yebyen ( 59663 ) on Tuesday April 28, 2015 @07:56AM (#49568119) Homepage

    Who is this anonymous reader who confidently asserts that it's worse?

    How can it be worse? I call bullshit.

    • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday April 28, 2015 @08:21AM (#49568361) Homepage

      Equally bad perhaps? Who cares, block it! The industry is already an oligopoly. Any merger of these companies is unwarranted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 )

      Who is this anonymous reader who confidently asserts that it's worse?

      How can it be worse? I call bullshit.

      What does it matter when at the end of the day a suitcase full of cash and a few dozen lobbyists will trump every single anti-monopoly law we have in existence.

      In the end, we will have but 3 or 4 main players offering up damn near every service you use in your life. And you're going to take it and like it, no matter how much it cost, because a suitcase full of cash and a few dozen lobbyists guaranteed you have no one else to turn to for those services.

      Now let's sit back and enjoy the corporate overlord sho

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        What does it matter when at the end of the day a suitcase full of cash and a few dozen lobbyists will trump every single anti-monopoly law we have in existence.

        So Comcast is buying TWC?

      • What does it matter when at the end of the day a suitcase full of cash and a few dozen lobbyists will trump every single anti-monopoly law we have in existence.

        Well, there's your answer, then. I'm sure the entire citizenry of the U.S. can produce more suitcases full of cash than AT&T and Direct TV can.

        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          of course. But can they spare it to hire lobbyists after buying all the necessities and "necessities" of life?

        • What does it matter when at the end of the day a suitcase full of cash and a few dozen lobbyists will trump every single anti-monopoly law we have in existence.

          Well, there's your answer, then. I'm sure the entire citizenry of the U.S. can produce more suitcases full of cash than AT&T and Direct TV can.

          The "citizenry" of the US won't even get their ass off the couch to vote for the person who will lead the entire country for the next few years, and you expect them to actually give a shit about this AND open their wallets.

          Oh yeah, that smells believable...

    • Re:Has to be worse? (Score:5, Informative)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday April 28, 2015 @08:55AM (#49568683) Homepage Journal

      Well, I'll take a stab at it.

      TWC and Comcast were two companies that offered the same product in completely different markets. In terms of their affect on the market, they would have had more power over, say, publishers (ie the TV networks), but no more power over, say, home Internet/Cable/Telephone prices than they did before, as the amount of competition in each area would have been unchanged.

      The power over publishers may have been good or bad, depending on whether it's "We insist you unbundle ESPN and make it a la carte, or else nobody in half the country will be able to get it or the other networks you want bundled any more!" or "We insist that Comedy Central now be a TWComcast-only channel!" thing.

      DirecTV and AT&T however are two companies that offer overlapping products in overlapping markets. Therefore, if you already live in an area served by AT&T, you will get one less choice (and thus see less competition) for TV service (at minimum) than you did before. Meanwhile AT&T gets to also turn the screws on TV networks. And additionally AT&T gets less suitors for bundling Internet access with satellite service - namely Dish Network can no longer offer discounted broadband by reselling AT&T's.

      So yeah, it's worse.

      • Well, I'll take a stab at it.

        TWC and Comcast were two companies that offered the same product in completely different markets. In terms of their affect on the market, they would have had more power over, say, publishers (ie the TV networks), but no more power over, say, home Internet/Cable/Telephone prices than they did before, as the amount of competition in each area would have been unchanged.

        While your attempt was noble, this is completely wrong. Both are already monopolies in 90%+ of their market areas. But at least now people can complain that the "other one" is only charging xyz for service in the next town over. IF the merger had gone through the "new" company would just raise prices and lower service EVERYWHERE...

        • Well, I'll take a stab at it.

          TWC and Comcast were two companies that offered the same product in completely different markets. In terms of their affect on the market, they would have had more power over, say, publishers (ie the TV networks), but no more power over, say, home Internet/Cable/Telephone prices than they did before, as the amount of competition in each area would have been unchanged.

          While your attempt was noble, this is completely wrong. Both are already monopolies in 90%+ of their market areas. But at least now people can complain that the "other one" is only charging xyz for service in the next town over. IF the merger had gone through the "new" company would just raise prices and lower service EVERYWHERE...

          You completely misunderstood, the parent was saying that Directv and ATT were competing, not TWC and Comcast. For consumers, TWC and Comcast do not compete. Whereas today, if AT&T Uverse TV rips you off you can dump them for DirecTV, who will then rip you off instead.
          If the merger goes through you won't be able to switch providers, or the ripoff will be computer coordinated to continue. They have rules and filters set up to do that.

        • Both are already monopolies in 90%+ of their market areas

          Correct. Which means I was right. If they were monopolies in their market areas then there's no way, by definition, they could have been competing with one another, right?

          By comparison, AT&T and DirecTV are competitors, they both offer TV service in the markets where AT&T operates. Therefore merging the two reduces competition.

          • by Yebyen ( 59663 )

            I think it's disingenuous to say that the two cable providers in the country don't compete with each other because they don't occupy the same physical space.

            People move from city to city all the time, and granted most people are not going to decide where they should move based on which cable provider they will have to deal with when they get there, but for these people who move inside the country, there will be 100% less choice in cable provider if there was a merger between TWC and Comcast. For everyone e

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        Why do you think TWC and Comcast did not have overlapping markets?

        You're not just a little bit concerned that two of the largest cable providers do not compete at all?
        • I'm not sure what you're getting at here. It sounds as if you think I'm arguing for corporations to serve different markets, rather than observing that they do, and the consequences thereof when it comes to proposed mergers.

      • More to the point, some time back in the 1980s or 1990s, the cable companies and municipalities were sued over the government-granted monopolies they were getting for subscription TV service. They eventually prevailed in court with the argument that satellite TV companies like DirecTV and Dish provided sufficient competition that they weren't really a monopoly. i.e. Even if a city gave Comcast a local cable TV monopoly, anyone in the area could subscribe to DirecTV instead, so it wasn't really a TV servic
    • One way I see, is that right now DirecTV does bundling with regional telephone operators for the TV bit of voice / data / TV bundles. You can bet that AT&T would put a stop to that, as that would mark a competitive advantage for them in that market.

  • Sigh (Score:1, Troll)

    by koan ( 80826 )

    I think we all knew Comcast was going to try again for the TW merger or move on to something else, this is too much for one corporation to control.

    In fact I think Comcast should be broken up by region and/or forced to upgrade their networks to at least South Korea levels.

    • by koan ( 80826 )

      LOL, lots of Comcast employees here...

      What's it like working for thieving termites?

    • In fact I think Comcast should be broken up by region and/or forced to upgrade their networks to at least South Korea levels.

      That's fine if you agree to upgrade the urban population density to at least South Korea networks.

      • by koan ( 80826 )

        50 million illegals have moved into this country, I think the urban density is far higher than you imagine, or that is documented.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Even with undocumented migrants, population density in most U.S. cities is still nowhere near the high-rise apartment density you see in Japan or Korea.

          • by koan ( 80826 )

            Yet you provide no data for your claim.

            • he doesn't need to provide a citation because it's all in the census data, you can look up the population density of New York, Chicago, or LA and compare them to Seoul. Not only that, but in the US population density drops quickly, but in Korea it stays high

              • by koan ( 80826 )

                No he does, I'm tired of assholes just "saying it is so", provide data or GTFO, until then I stand with my assessment, that the USA has shitty internet and Comcast is a bunch of greedy termites that should be dismantled the same way ATT was previously.

                Fuck Comcast, fuck Verizon, fuck the FCC, and fuck this government of greedy poltroons.

                • I'm tired of assholes just "saying it is so", provide data or GTFO

                  You can research things yourself, can't you?

                  until then I stand with my assessment, that the USA has shitty internet

                  It does, but one of the many reasons it does is how our population is distributed.

                  Comcast is a bunch of greedy termites that should be dismantled the same way ATT was previously.

                  Probably, but AT&T isn't really dismantled any more, is it.

              • by koan ( 80826 )

                Additionally, since this information is "readily available" you could have posted it, and put and end to it, instead you chose to be lazy and just bitch, you must be a millennial, I see that behavior everyday.

                • Why should I repost data that even a cursory google search can find? Besides, any dumb bunny knows that population density drops off outside of metro-areas in the US, but that in Korea the population is more concentrated.

                  instead you chose to be lazy

                  The lazy person was the one who didn't google. Why should I be the "Let Me Google That For You" guy?

                  you must be a millennial, I see that behavior everyday.

                  Yeah yeah, complain again about the Millenials, that's some axe you got against them, buddy. However I am not one of them, I was born in '67.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              If you're a "the sky is blue [citation needed]" type, let me Google that for you:

              • Seoul population density brought 44,691/sq mi (17,255/km^2)
              • Los Angeles population density brought 8,092.3/sq mi (2,913.0/km^2) and 546.3/sq mi (210.9/km^2) for the Greater LA area.

              In fact, Wikipedia's list of cities by population density [wikipedia.org] includes only one U.S. city in the top 50, and that's the comparatively small city of Union City, New Jersey [wikipedia.org].

              Incidentally, Slashdot includes neither the character 'SUPERSCRIPT TWO' (U+00B2) i

  • It seems that every time something great comes along to stir the pot such as Replay TV, something happens to ruin the fun. I am sure ATT will kill that little JEM before the ink has dried on the contract.
  • Comcast was voted the Worst Company in America in 2014. Time Warner doesn't win that contest, but they're often a strong contender. ATT Uverse and DirecTV don't have that problem.

    • AT&T's logo is the Death Star, fer cryin' out loud. Just because they're not as bad as Comcast, doesn't mean they're not terrible.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Tuesday April 28, 2015 @08:31AM (#49568457) Journal

    The thing with DirecTV is, they've never really been more than a minor player in the area of providing high speed internet service to customers.
    (Heck, these are the guys who still needed you to plug each satellite receiver into a phone jack so it could phone home to let you purchase pay-per-view programming, YEARS after everyone was otherwise rid of their dial-up modems.)

    I know for a long time, they were offering "TV and internet bundles" that simply partnered with AT&T to sell someone DSL service as the internet portion of the package.

    Yes, they sell satellite based broadband internet to people today ... but again, it's really just a niche market. Satellite based internet has such high latency, it makes it useless for online gaming (at least in many situations), and it's still pretty expensive if you're going to transfer a lot of data each month. Just like satellite TV, it loses signal in bad weather too.

    If AT&T buys them out, I can't really envision the negative impact? It sounds like you'd still get some sort of satellite television subscription while using the service, regardless of the company brand name on the system -- and AT&T would have no reason to cancel your ability to do satellite internet. (I think they have their own satellite offering right now? Or at least they did until recently. Maybe they'd transition you over to it?)

    And for those concerned that this would make their satellite connections more expensive? Dish Network has always been a little cheaper than DirecTV and you'd still be able to cancel and go with them instead, anywhere in the country.

    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      Hey! Stop being rational! You're supposed to rant and scream about the potential for abuse by big corporations -- this IS Slashdot, after all, land of the paranoid schizophrenics...

    • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

      They ran a fine DSL service back when that was semi-new technology. I still have the DirecTV DSL modem somewhere. It was enormous, but it worked great. If not for them, I wouldn't have DSL now. The phone company always refused to fix their crap to get DSL to my part of town. DirecTV managed to force them to act somehow.

      I've had DirecTV since 2000-ish and I really hope AT&T doesn't fuck it up. They're a major player in my area (southern NH), there are more houses with DirecTV dishes than there are

      • I loved DirecTV when I had it. I cut the cord, but not because it sucked but because it felt like a lot of money (still much cheaper than comcast) when almost everything I watched was available for streaming.

    • FYI: Many sat providers still require an independent Internet connection - my Dish Hopper set for instance still wants/demands Wifi access to your home Internet so that it can receive updates and let you purchase PPV. You can get by without it, but it won't do PPV until you connect it.

      • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

        DirecTV does too, last I checked. That's how it does the billing. Also how it gets video-on-demand, which is funny because if everything was available over VOD, the dish on the roof would be pointless.

        • DirecTV does too, last I checked. That's how it does the billing. Also how it gets video-on-demand, which is funny because if everything was available over VOD, the dish on the roof would be pointless.

          Odd, my DirectTV receiver doesn't have a WiFi connection. It does have a phone line but it doesn't use it much. I left it disconnected for the better part of a year and it kept working fine.

          • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

            Yea, my older receiver had the phone line unplugged almost its entire life span. My current one doesn't actually have wifi, it has a physical ethernet port. I think the newer ones do have wifi.

            They have a "start from the beginning" feature now too. So if you start watching a show that's in progress, for many shows, you can stream the part you missed. Only catch is that it disables fast forward so you have to let the commercials play. That's probably the only reason they're allowed to offer the feature.

        • My DirecTV never had video on demand, it had pay per view though, as it all came down from satellite as broadcast. The newer model though may have done something with internet, but if your internet sucks then video on demand would be horrid.

      • I thought updates needed only a downlink. Why can't the device receive updates over the air? Likewise, I thought authorization to play a particular program on a particular device needed only a downlink. Why can't the device let the user order PPV by logging into a website using a computer?

    • The reason for the phone is because there is literally no other way to get data back to the office. Comcast doubles as internet, so there's a two way communication. Same with AT&T. For satellite it's mostly one way only.

      Though DirecTV was small, it was often used by people sick of their local cable providers, because it was cheaper and had better service and for a long time better digital quality (especially if local cable monopoly was stuck on analog or charged a huge amount for digital).

  • by apcullen ( 2504324 ) on Tuesday April 28, 2015 @08:51AM (#49568651)
    Does Direct TV own some piece of the wireless spectrum that AT&T could make use of, or vice versa?
    • by schnell ( 163007 )

      Does Direct TV own some piece of the wireless spectrum that AT&T could make use of, or vice versa?

      Not really. DirecTV uses the same Ku band [wikipedia.org] (12-18 GHz) and Ka band [wikipedia.org] (26-40 GHz) spectrum as other satellite TV broadcasters and Internet services do. At such a high frequency, it's great for delivering lots of data/HD video but has such weak propagation that you need line of sight to the satellite + a big honkin' dish to use it. So it's more or less useless for mobile phones or anything that's not fixed in location. Unless you'd like your next phone to have a .75m dish hanging off it and stand still, pointed

  • "We don't care, we don't have to, we're the phone company" doesn't quite sum it up anymore... and well, "We don't care, we don't have to, we're the phone/satellite company." just doesn't have as nice a ring to it.

    death-star or no, AT&T just doesn't have the same flavor of evil as TWC & Comcast. Least not in my experience anyway (now, I've never had them for anything other than landline ... and that was short lived, as they couldn't compete in the "internet" market ... and still can't where I li
  • by whizbang77045 ( 1342005 ) on Tuesday April 28, 2015 @08:56AM (#49568695)
    Directv's internet is so bad, that I don't see how AT&T could make it worse. I wonder if they may not really be after a way to distribute content.

    But regardless of what they are after, I don't believe we need any more mega-communications companies. Neither of these companies has any serious record of operating in the public interest, This is a marriage like the daughter of Dracula and the wolfman. Whatever is born of the union will howl at the moon, suck our blood with every bill, and snarl at us when we call the help line,

    • On the contrary. AT&T's service is so bad that I don't see how Directv could make it worse.
    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Directv's internet is so bad, that I don't see how AT&T could make it worse.

      They could outsource services like email to Yahoo. They could block protocol 41 to prevent customers from tunneling IPv6 without paying for it. They could transparently proxy DNS and HTTP.

  • We keep trying to fix the wrong problem.

    Fix the last mile problem, and everything else goes away.

    • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

      I'd bet that's why it isn't happening.. so many hated mega-corps could become unnecessary overnight. No one is going to stick with a company like Comcast or the other cable MSOs if they don't have to.

  • Our family was considering DirectTV because AT&T plays billing games, and TWC has flaky quality. Now we are stuck again because they will be the same thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have a big problem with Comcast being a service provider and a content producer. I think that is the same power AT&T is seeking. For connectivity, We have some great less known options such as small fiber companies and WISPs (local, noncellular Wireless Internet Providers) that are giving us alternate options for getting connected to the net. This is because in the end, the smaller companies are more hands on and personal and versatile providing service than the big guys that only want

  • Such a deal would be bad for consumers, for certain. I suspect that AT&T may be trying to compete with cable companies by offering a TV service of its own through the satellite which would then bundle with AT&Ts landline services. Perhaps protections will be put in place to not have an adverse anticompetitive impact on Dish TV, and other landline providers.

    Now I am speaking from a technical perspective here and idealistically rather than how the chips would fall considering many of the current tenda

  • ( non ton-foil hat version ) AT&T is diversifying their profit engines. It is quite likely you'll see them sell off the wire line side of the company in the near future. The acquisition of Direct TV is most likely how they will offset any profit loss of said wire line sale. ( long term ) Though, in an era where record numbers of folks are cutting their ties to both Cable TV and satellite programming, I'm not sure if the outcome will remain positive for very long without some major changes in how th

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