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Is a Satellite TV Acquisition Off the Table for AT&T?

On the telco’s Q2 earnings call Thursday, AT&T CFO Rick Lindner didn’t rule out the possibility of buying a satellite TV operator — but he definitely splashed cold water on the idea, which has been kicking around for years (AT&T-EchoStar Merger Rumors Heat Up).

Specifically, Lindner was asked about AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s comments in a Financial Times interview published last week in which he said there was “industrial logic” in acquiring DirecTV but that regulators would likely block such a deal.

“There always are advantages of scale and the ability to leverage the size of customers bases to reduce content costs,” Lindner responded.”But in all acquisitions and opportunities, you look at, What are the financial characteristics and opportunities? And can you create value?”

He continued, “Obviously as we’ve gone up to this point we’ve felt very good about the path we’re on. You continue to see the growth in the U-verse platform…. And the strength of that, frankly, is in its ability to provide voice, data and video, a full bundle of products all over a common infrastructure. And so we’ll continue to push down that path.

“You see the improvement [U-verse is] making in our consumer business and our consumer revenue trends,” Lindner concluded. “And so I think we’re looking at all the right things. I think we’re following the right path with respect to that consumer business.”

AT&T, by the way, lost 74,000 satellite connections in the second quarter, to stand at 2.053 million, from DirecTV and its now-expired deal with Dish (see AT&T Rolls Up 2.5 Million U-verse TV Subscribers).