Kohl, Dewine: Eye DBS merger carefully

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The Justice Department's Antitrust Division needs to "carefully consider" whether allowing the merger of EchoStar Communications Corp. and
DirecTV Inc. would benefit competition and consumers, Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
and Mike Dewine (R-Ohio) wrote to the agency on Thursday.

EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen and DirecTV Chairman Eddy Hartenstein tried to
reassure Kohl and Dewine during a hearing last winter, by saying they would
happily agree to conditions on the merger, such as a national pricing plan.

But the two Senators say just making the concessions could be bad for
competition.

"We are concerned that even if your agency were willing to enter into such a
[consent] decree, enforcement of such a decree might mean that the subscription
television industry would be subject to intrusive governmental regulation for
years to come," the two wrote.

Kohl and Dewine, as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Antitrust
Subcommittee, are arguably the two lawmakers most closely linked to the
Antitrust Division, so their words are likely to have some weight with the
agency.

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