Television

FCC nod for News Corp, Direct TV deal

MUMBAI: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has okayed News Corp's takeover of DirecTV and Hughes, but has imposed certain conditions on the $6.6 billion deal.

The deal between the media conglomerate and the satellite television provider was opposed by the commission's democratic minority.

According to media reports, the conditions attached to the deal include an assurance that the competitors can access News Corp controlled programming.

FCC also said News Corp must agree to arbitration to solve disputes with companies that carry its broadcast and cable channels and must treat all stations equally, not tilt in favour of its Fox broadcasting network and cable stations such as FX, says the media report. News Corp also agreed not to pull either the network programming or its regional sports networks while a dispute was being arbitrated.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell offered that the conditional merger will ultimately benefits the American public. He also added that enhanced competition will increase pressure to improve service and lower prices for both cable and satellite television subscribers.

The transaction should be completed during the next several business days. The deal also won clearance from the justice department's antitrust staff, say reports.

The deal, announced in April, states that News Corp would acquire 34 per cent of DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics - a subsidiary of General Motors Corp. The deal would give News Corp the largest block of shares in Hughes and controlling interest in DirecTV, which has more than 11 million subscribers.

The deal was also opposed by some consumer groups, who said that it would further reduce competition by shrinking the number of media companies, and would drive up the price of cable and satellite services.

The FCC last year rejected a proposed merger between DirecTV and its chief competitor, EchoStar Communications Corp, ruling it would unfairly limit consumer choices.

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