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DirecTV, AT&T Talk Conditions With FCC

AT&T and DirecTV executives met with FCC staffers last week to talk up their proposed merger, outlining both what they would and would not do if the agency allows them to get together.

The FCC has not restarted the 180-day informal shot clock on the deal, which was stopped (at day 170) back before a D.C. federal court decided on whether hundreds of third-parties will get access to sensitive programming contracts. They won't, but the FCC is said to be continuing to talk with the companies about potential FCC-imposed conditions, which could include on broadband buildouts, interconnection, network neutrality, access to programming and more.

In the meeting, the execs talked about their voluntary conditions. Those include not using government subsidies to fund roll out of higher speed broadband two 2 million additional customer locations (the companies will report regularly to the FCC with verification), and AT&T's commitment to offer standalone, "affordable" broadband of 6 Mbps (AT&T said it does not need the FCC to tell it how to market that service).

They also assured the staffers that AT&T has "strong incentives" to provide customers with access to "the full range of OVD services that consumers demand."

One of the FCC's big concerns is the ability and incentive of merging media companies to discourage competitors to their traditional or own over-the-top offerings.

AT&T said it has a strong incentive to provide "the richest possible entertainment environment."

AT&T also talked about usage-based pricing, signaling that those plans provide sufficient bandwidth for most customers. "[A]ny AT&T usage-based pricing for wireline broadband includes data usage allowances that accommodate the great majority of customers."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.