DirecTV chairman and CEO Mike White said that consolidating pay TV distribution – including a union between his company and No. 2 satellite TV provider Dish Network – would go a long way toward curbing rising programming rates, but added the current regulatory environment would never allow it to happen.
White, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York Wednesday, cited recent big consolidation plays that were struck down by regulators – AT&T's failed 2011 merger with T-Mobile and the proposed combination of American Airlines and US Airways – for anti-competitive reasons. White said the same regulatory mentality – an aversion to reducing the number of competitors in a sector – persists in the media business.
"There is no question that it is a very challenging regulatory environment for any deal to get done," White said. "The challenge would be can you educate regulators that there are other considerations."
White said usually when there is an imbalance between "upstairs supply and downstairs distribution, usually the way that gets solved is you have consolidation of some sort." Without it, it is almost inevitable that consumers' prices will rise in concert with the cost of that supply.