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Hold the pickle, the FTC won't let us merge

The federal government is trying to prevent a major media player from merging
two market leaders into a single company, saying, "This transaction would result
in a dominant firm merging with its most significant competitor by far."

The Federal Trade Commission said the effect of the proposed merger "may be
to lessen competition substantially and lead to increases in prices or a
reduction in competitive vigor."

EchoStar Communications Corp./DirecTV INc.? Nope.

Comcast Corp./AT&T Broadband. Uh-uh.

Vlasic/Claussen. Dallas-based venture capitalist Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc., which owns
pieces of a number of major media companies, also owns Vlasic pickles and had an
agreement to buy rival pickler Claussen.

The FTC weighed in Tuesday seeking an injunction against the deal and saying:
"Hicks, Muse's proposed acquisition of Claussen would eliminate competition and
the unique rivalry between the two national pickle brands. Claussen is the
dominant producer of refrigerated pickles, and Vlasic serves as the primary price
constraint on Claussen. Together, the companies would have a monopoly share of
the refrigerated-pickle market."

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.