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Dish and Cogent make specific demands of AT&T-DirecTV deal

Dish and Cogent met with Federal Communications Commission staffers this week demanding the agency attach very specific conditions to any approval of AT&T’s $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV.

The conditions, outlined in a 7-page ex parte released by the agency Wednesday, are as specific as how a telephone sales rep should talk to a customer and how the terms of service for a standalone broadband service should be marketed on the web.

Both the FCC and the Department of Justice are in the final stages of the merger.

Among the merger conditions, the critics want the FCC to force the merged company to provide a stand-alone broadband service (at a specific speed and a specific price), follow specific interconnection guidelines that minimize congestion, prohibit the company from excluding its own video services from counting against, and adhere to the open Internet order and the Title II framework no matter what happens in court. (AT&T is one of 10 parties that have filed legal challenges to the FCC order.)

…as a result of buying the nation’s second-largest MVPD, AT&T will have a greater incentive to promote its own video services, while making competing OTT services less attractive. Should the transaction proceed, AT&T will obtain a massive video distribution business that it will have every incentive to protect from competitive threats, including existing and emerging OTT services such as Sling TV and Netflix, among others.4 Thus, AT&T’s increased stated incentive to favor its own video services for the benefit of bundle customers, combined with its technical ability to thwart competing OTT services, threatens serious harms for such competing OTT services.

Dish is also asking the FCC to force DirecTV to divest specific satellite channels to Dish and compel the combined company to provide regional sports networks on a non-exclusive basis to all pay TV providers.

Public Knowledge, Free Press and New America’s Open Technology Institute, also participated in the ex parte talks.