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Family groups: Keep Murdoch away from DirecTV

Although EchoStar Communications Corp. is still working hard to get its
proposed merger with Hughes Electronics Corp. and DirecTV Inc. approved by federal
regulators, groups of child and family advocates are already worried about
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. acquiring DirecTV should the EchoStar deal fall

The groups said allowing Murdoch to buy DirecTV would give "the media mogul
control over one-half of the satellite-television market and an overwhelming platform
from which to broadcast television programming loaded with gratuitous sex,
violence and foul language."

The Kids First Coalition, The Wilberforce Forum and the Religious Freedom
Coalition are all worried that Murdoch is "misleading a small but influential
group of religious broadcasters into lobbying the Department of Justice and the
FCC [Federal Communications Commission] against the pending merger," and they have sent letters to Attorney General John
Ashcroft and FCC chairman Michael Powell to that

Earlier this year, several religious broadcasters held a meeting with Murdoch
in which sources said Murdoch told the ministers that if he acquired DirecTV,
he would make space on his system for their religious programming.

In June, religious broadcasters delivered nearly 500,000 petitions
from constituents opposing EchoStar's bid to buy DirecTV.

But Kids First and other groups would rather EchoStar own DirecTV than
Murdoch because they are so strongly opposed to Murdoch's brand of programming:
"The programming aired on Mr. Murdoch's Fox network is a nightly assault on
family values and Christian principles, with much of it offered during the
so-called family hour," the groups said.