Armey rises for EchoStar


House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) supports EchoStar Communications
Corp.'s planned merger with DirecTV Inc., sources said.

Last week, Armey sent a letter to that effect to Attorney General John
Ashcroft. Armey's approval is important since it is one of the few unqualified
shows of support EchoStar has gotten from a key member of Congress.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) has been behind the merger, and House Energy and
Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) has been conditionally

"I believe that the merger between EchoStar and Hughes Electronics [Corp., DirecTV's parent]
should be allowed to proceed," Armey wrote. "These companies have obviously
determined that consumers would have access to more services through the
combined company than would otherwise be available, including not only more
channels to choose from, but also more different types of television

He went on to suggest that instead of blocking the merger, the government
should improve the spectrum-allocation process so that spectrum considerations alone
don't hamper business development and innovation.