In a move that could help AT&T and Dish Network to build their 5G wireless communications networks, the two companies are in fresh talks to merge their satellite TV businesses, according to reporting in the New York Post. AT&T’s satellite TV business is DirecTV.
“The satellite-TV giants attempted a merger nearly two decades ago but the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department’s antitrust division stopped it,” the Post story reads. “Two years ago, the DOJ also quietly warned executives off a prospective deal, concerned about the nascent rollout of 5G, sources said.”
Both companies’ satellite TV businesses have been losing subscribers to a trend that sees consumers using internet connections for video viewing and disconnect there cable TV or satellite TV services in a step called cutting the cord. The Post reported that merging the two satellite services could save the companies as much as $1 billion in costs.
“In 2020, regulators with the DOJ’s antitrust division had told AT&T executives that a marriage between DirecTV and Dish would have to wait until faster 5G wireless service is more widely available in rural markets, two sources close to the situation said,” the Post story reads. “Regulators were concerned that a combined company could jack up the prices of satellite TV.”
The Post quoted telecom analyst Craig Moffett as saying, “The FCC and DOJ would likely both conclude that having one strong satellite competitor is better than none at all — and the future is not terribly bright even together but especially alone.”