Following press reports that the Department of Justice is likely to block
EchoStar Communications Corp.'s bid to buy DirecTV Inc., media-watchdog
organizations are gearing up to fight the next expected bidder for General
Motors Corp.'s satellite-TV operation -- Rubert Murdoch.
The chief of News Corp., who has built a global media conglomerate with news
operations that generally are conservative, has long been considered a pariah by
liberal public-advocacy groups. He previously has tried to buy DirecTV, and
he publicly opposed the bid of EchoStar's Charlie Ergen to merge the two U.S.
satellite broadcasters into one company.
"If Rupert thinks the furor over Charlie's takeover was fierce, wait until
News Corp. makes a bid," said Jeff Chester, head of the Center for Digital
Some public-advocacy groups -- Media Access Project and Consumers Union,
specifically -- endorsed the EchoStar bid in order to keep DirecTV out of News
Corp.'s hands. Their fear is that News Corp., which controls major cable
programming and distribution operations, will favor DirecTV at EchoStar's
expense and hurt direct-broadcast satellite competition.
"We will be miserable if News Corp. gets DirecTV," MAP president Andrew
Tuesday editions of The New York Times and The Wall Street
Journal reported that DOJ staffers have recommended blocking
EchoStar's bid to acquire DirecTV -- a deal that would leave just one DBS provider
in the United States.