FCC restarts clock for News Corp-DirecTV review

WASHINGTON: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) resumed its informal 180-day clock for reviewing News Corp Ltd's plan to acquire control of US satellite television provider DirecTV, on Monday (17 November).

On 10 October, FCC had put its review on hold to seek additional information from News Corp and DirecTV's parent Hughes Electronics Corp, as well as to conduct additional consultations with anti-trust enforcers at the US Justice Department.

News Corp had proposed acquiring for $6.6 billion a 34 per cent controlling stake in Hughes, giving it access to DirecTV's distribution platform.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell had concerns about the deal that may require the companies to accept additional conditions to win the agency's approval, a source familiar with the issue had said previously.

However, yesterday, Kenneth Ferree, the FCC official heading up the review, said in a letter to the companies, "The additional information sought has been submitted and we also have substantially completed our discussions with the Department of Justice."

According to media reports, there are 30 days left on the review clock, which is not binding. Ferree has said in the past that he hopes to complete work on the deal by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, DirecTV has reported that it recently crossed the 12 million customer mark, a milestone reached after nine years in the business.

Another top satellite TV provider Dish Network stated that in its third quarter earnings it added about 285,000 net subscribers during the three-month period. Dish Network had approximately 9.085 million subscribers on September 30, the parent company EchoStar Communications Corp. said. 

In October, the FCC had rejected a proposed $ 18.5 billion merger between EchoStar and Hughes. 

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