News Corp. Friday submitted its application for Federal Communications
Commission permission to take control of DirecTV Inc., starting the FCC's
180-day clock on such mergers.
News Corp. pledged to expand carriage of local broadcast signals in "as many
as" 210 markets as soon as "economically and technologically feasible."
The company pledged to abide by program-access rules that apply to cable. It
also reiterated its promise to offer its programming networks to rival
distributors on nondiscriminatory terms and not to enter into exclusive
contracts for its programming services.
The filing suggested that there was no reason to be concerned about the
merged companies abusing their combined muscle, as "News Corp. has no market
power in the programming market and DirecTV has no market power in the MVPD
Media Access Project president Andrew Schwartzman commented, "On its face,
this is a very troublesome transaction," although he added that it is too early
to comment in detail and he does not yet know whether his group will file a
petition to deny the merger.
"One of the reasons why we hoped the EchoStar [Communications Corp.]
transaction [to purchase DirecTV] could be amended into acceptability," he said,
"was because we were concerned that [News Corp. chairman Rupert] Murdoch would be next."
The $6.6 billion deal was announced last month.