In a stab at avoiding rejection of its planned takeover of direct-broadcast satellite rival
DirecTV Inc., EchoStar Communications Corp. asked the Federal Communications
Commission Monday to delay ruling on the deal while it explored "major
revisions" with the Department of Justice.
Lobbyists and industry executives said the FCC and teh DOJ's antitrust division are moving to reject the merger, which would be a huge blow
to both companies. But the companies are negotiating with the DOJ to revise the
structure to secure approval. A meeting with the DOJ is scheduled for Oct. 28,
before which "structural remedy proposals" will be submitted.
EchoStar did not detail the proposed revisions, although in a letter to
FCC chairman Michael Powell and Media Bureau chief Ken Feree, lawyers for both
companies said the changes will "go beyond remedies heretofore presented,
such as national pricing." They pointed out that the DOJ has requested additional
time to depose EchoStar chief Charlie Ergen (he was deposed last Thursday and
Friday) and asked the FCC to delay any decision -- including a "short" stoppage of
the agency's 180-day merger-review clock, if necessary -- and to schedule public hearings
to consider the outcome of the DOJ negotiations.