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FCC Wants Info from News Corp./DirecTV

The Federal Communications Commission has asked News Corp. and Hughes Electronics Corp./DirecTV Inc. for more information on News Corp.’s proposed purchase of just over one-third of DirecTV.

The agency has given the companies until Oct. 29 to supply the new info.

From Hughes, the commission wants: subscriber figures; subscriber gains and losses; whether customers get their service through DirecTV or the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative; and details of discounts offered in collaboration with The Walt Disney Co.

From News Corp., it wants copies of affiliation agreements with 10 of its TV stations.

The commission last Friday stopped its self-imposed 180-day merger-review clock at 149 days while it prepared to send the letter. It will start the clock again on the $6.6 billion deal after it receives "adequate" responses.

Among the criticisms expressed in comments on the proposed deal is that a combined News Corp./DirecTV could withhold some of its "must-have" programming -- including national cable channels, regional sports networks and Fox TV stations -- from cable competitors, or raise their prices.