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AT&T The Media Entertainment

WSJ Reports AT&T May Be Eying a $40B DirecTV Acquisition 73

Posted by timothy
from the you-are-my-eyeballs-my-only-eyeballs dept.
New submitter rcht148 (2872453) writes with this excerpt from The Verge:"If the idea of Comcast buying out Time Warner Cable to become the largest cable company in America wasn't enough to make you worry about media consolidation, news [Wednesday] from the Wall Street Journal just might. Reportedly, AT&T has approached DirecTV to begin 'possible acquisition' talks, a deal that the WSJ says could be worth over $40 billion. If it were to happen, it would give the combined company something on the order of 26 million TV subscribers, making it second only to the hypothetical Comcast/TWC combination of 30 million."
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WSJ Reports AT&T May Be Eying a $40B DirecTV Acquisition

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  • net neutrality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arbiterxero (952505) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:51AM (#46888143)

    All the more reason net neutrality matters. A LOT.

    Hmmm, do I want the disney internet, or the work internet, or the Time-Warner internet, or the HBO internet...

    It will become mindless channels instead of the broad communication tool it is now

    • Net Neutrality is important, but lets not exaggerate what will likely happen. If you live in town, I doubt it will even effect you. If you live in the country however, and all your neighbors watch netflix, your internet connections going to suck on friday/saturday nights. I'm fairly certain that if they start using the issue to block your access to parts of the internet and create walled gardens, the FCC would step in, and if they didn't, it'd end up in front of SCOTUS as 1st amendment issue. I don't think

      • How is this a 1st amendment issue? The com lines are not owned by the government, they are owned by private companies.
    • I don't believe directv itself provides any internet services. There's hughesnet, but I don't recall if they're a sister company or a parent company. Even if they are the same company these days, the service is crap anyways; it's horribly capped and the latency is awful, and I can't see a merger making it any worse.

      Anyways, IMO this only stands to harm pay TV content providers. And you know what? I say let it happen. The pay TV content providers have been fucking us over for decades and are THE biggest reas

  • AT&T paid a fortune for John Malone's TCI, then sold it to Comcast.

    Now they're going to him a fortune again for DirecTV?

    Could this be the funding Malone needs for another run at Time Warner Cable?

    Stay tuned!

  • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:58AM (#46888181)

    Want internet? You can have either Comcast or AT&T. Choose one.

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      As I've mentioned before in Slashdot threads on the poor quality and prices of internet access in the US, there has to be more to the story than lack of competition. In my town in Romania, I also have exactly two choices: UPC and RCS-RDS. And yet both offer an at least 400 megabit fiber optic conection (the latter just started offering gigabit) to your door for less than 20€/month. There's no throttling, you can torrent hundreds of gigabytes a month without anyone batting an eye.

      Now, perhaps this is be

      • by hendrips (2722525)

        I would speculate that the low speeds, at least, occur because Americans simply don't care. Yes, yes, I know that plenty of American Slashdotters care. But competition tends to make companies better at producing what customers demand. If there isn't sufficient demand for a product, such as gigabit internet, then no amount of competition will cause companies to start producing that product.

        Now, that's not an absolute statement, and low demand isn't the same thing as no demand. If Google wants to provide

      • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @09:40AM (#46888869) Homepage Journal
        Is there no comparable funding in the US, and if not, what is the political obstacle?

        Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, the U.S. government gave out billions of dollars to companies to lay fiber all over the country for the expected increase in internet usage. They were trying to give a boost to the thousands of ISPs we had at that time by taking over some of the cost of the upgrade.

        Tens of thousands of miles of fiber were laid and then nothing. It was at this same time The Great Consolidation started to take place and over the next decade we went from thousands of providers to a literal handful. All that taxpayer money that was given to companies to lay fiber went wasted because after it was laid, the money that was left over was used by companies to buy up competitors rather than upgrading backend services to provide higher speeds.

        The result is what you see today. 3 or 4 providers covering the country with the vast majority of people having only 1 or 2 providers to choose from, both offering the same high prices for the same slow speeds.

        The difference between your country and ours is that private industry is supposed to react to consumer demand by providing better products/services at lower prices than their competitor. In reality, millions of dollars each year are spent bribing elected officials and those involved with decision-making of rules and regulations to prevent real free market principles from taking hold.

        To be perfectly blunt, the way things are now in this country, with businesses holding sway and able to get elected officials to do their bidding, is not too far off from the way things were done in your country, and most of Eastern Europe under Soviet rule, in the past. What the people want is becoming less and less relevant with those who have the power and influence dictating how things will be.
      • The United States does have a "plan": http://www.broadband.gov/plan/... [broadband.gov]

        Billions in government money is available for expanding broadband.

      • by swb (14022)

        Newer infrastructure?

        In most cases, US high speed internet is an "extension" (or bastardization, if you will) of older, pre-existing infrastructure. DSL is built out on top of POTS, and pretty much everything else that isn't fiber to the home is built out on the cable television infrastructure.

        My guess is that most of the communications infrastructure, especially Internet connectivity, dates from the mid-1990s at the earliest. It was purpose built, brand-new using modern technologies rather than adapting t

        • by CRCulver (715279)
          My first broadband connection in Romania in the 2000s was DSL built on top of either phone or cable television infrastructure, I forget. But by the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, there was a large and successful push for laying fiber. Except for a few small ventures like Google and Verizon working in some limited areas, that push never happened in the US.
          • by swb (14022)

            But what was the telecommunications infrastructure like before Ceausescu was deposed? I would guess that individual phone lines were something of a luxury, especially outside core urban areas. Was there even a cable television infrastructure before the 1990s?

            Of course, I'm not justifying what feels like underinvestment in US infrastructure, but somehow it seems more likely you'd end up today with something much more modern in a place like Romania which likely had a pretty old and small telecomms buildout

            • by CRCulver (715279)

              The point is that there have been two major waves of infrastructure investment in recent years in Romania while in the US there has only been one and then apparently companies got lazy and began to abuse their monopolies/duopolies.

              Americans sometimes claim that firms have not laid fiber because they are still coasting on the telephone lines and cable television connections. However, the 1990s saw Romania build up telephone lines and cable television connections, and broadband internet was originally provide

              • by swb (14022)

                My only guess (outside of pure rent-seeking monopoly behavior) would be just scale -- 250M people versus 20 million people, 9 million km^2 vs. 238,000 km^2, and the US only has about 1/3 of the population density.

                • by CRCulver (715279)
                  While population density might explain the dearth of fiber in rural areas of the United States, it does not explain the lack of fiber in many US metropolitan areas. "pure rent-seeking monopoly behavior" is probably all that it comes down to.
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Ah, EU funds. We don't have much public funding of anything in the US really, even our bridges fall down. Too many people in power think that market forces should control everything and can solve any problem. And in this case, it's mostly right, as long as you live in a major metropolitan hub rather than a small town,rural area, or in the poor parts of town.

    • So, in most markets that's the way it works (telco and cableco). Even if there are resellers, prices are about the same (like gas stations)...

      The problem is ISPs are also content distributers, so they want to prevent Netflix and such from competing with their own services (or TV channels), hence why Comcast was able to force Netflix to pay them...

    • I would LOVE 2 choices. I only have 1. All the more reason these companies should be busted the hell up instead of merged,.

    • What kind of Utopia do you live in? Two choices!

      Where I am from you can have either Bell or Rogers. Choose one. Both offer exact same packages.

      I know there is a kang and kodos joke in here someplace...

      https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t... [google.ca]

    • by antdude (79039)

      For Internet, I only have one fast affordable one: Cable. No DSL, fiber, etc. I can go back to dial-up, satellite, etc. but why?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is the word of the day. Until some kind of real regulation/legislation occurs high price and low service compared to the rest of the developed world will continue to be the mantra of the US Television and Internet market.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:06AM (#46888237)

    DirecTV and Uverse have better TV then comcast.

    Comcast can't even show all there IN MARKET RSN HD feeds or other stuff like BTN ALTs in HD or Premier League Extra Time as real channels.

    Comcast is liveing in the past with loads of older boxes they still have HD boxes out there don't even have HDMI out on them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That may be true (I happen to agree with you that it likely is), however this is not about TV. This is about competition and removing it.

      If AT&T buys out DirecTV that creates one more super-monopoly and reduces choices even more, thereby allowing everyone to raise prices and reduce quality. Nothing about this is good for consumers.

      • Well Dish and directv need to do something if comcast and TWC meager happens.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/then

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/than

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:19AM (#46888317) Homepage

    If the idea of Comcast buying out Time Warner Cable to become the largest cable company in America wasn't enough to make you worry

    That idea is very worrying — because it is about two competitors merging. However, with both of them being very-very cozy with the governing party [nationalreview.com], the merger is all but decided, unfortunately.

    If it were to happen, it would give the combined company something on the order of 26 million TV subscribers

    That's a lot, but less than the other combo and, more importantly, TV is not primary line of business for AT&T...

    That said, with Internet-speeds continuing to rise — net-neutrality or not — it will only become easier to deliver content over it. Netflix may have made a special deal with Verizon [cnet.com], but smaller IPTV providers (like KartinaTV used by my relatives to watch channels from the former USSR and Israel) are doing just fine without any special arrangements.

    • but all of that TV eats your CAP fast. Also what makes you think comcast will not play fair with online TV when they have there own TV system to sell you. they may even have be like buy TV and get a bigger cap on the internet.

    • This is more worrying. The Comcast/twc merger is not really a merger of competitors. They generally serve separate and distinct markets. If I am unhappy with comcast, I cant switch to twc. But I can (generally) switch to directv or dish, or possibly at&t uverse or verizon fios.
    • Please don't try and tell us that somehow the republicans are such saints in this. At least the democrats have tried to pass net-neutrality rules which would put an end to the content based discrimination nonsense.
      • by mi (197448)

        Please don't try and tell us that somehow the republicans are such saints in this

        I was not talking about Republicans. I was talking about the Administration currently in charge — in whose power it is to block the merger. Famously, Obama "has pen and phone", but would not use it. Considering the two companies' support for Democratic Party, it is not difficult to see why. Saint or not, if Bush was of similar disposition, Enron [apfn.org] might still have been around...

        At least the democrats have tried to pass net

    • by unitron (5733)

      If the idea of Comcast buying out Time Warner Cable to become the largest cable company in America wasn't enough to make you worry

      That idea is very worrying — because it is about two competitors merging. However, with both of them being very-very cozy with the governing party [nationalreview.com], the merger is all but decided, unfortunately.

      If it were to happen, it would give the combined company something on the order of 26 million TV subscribers

      That's a lot, but less than the other combo and, more importantly, TV is not primary line of business for AT&T...

      That said, with Internet-speeds continuing to rise — net-neutrality or not — it will only become easier to deliver content over it. Netflix may have made a special deal with Verizon [cnet.com], but smaller IPTV providers (like KartinaTV used by my relatives to watch channels from the former USSR and Israel) are doing just fine without any special arrangements.

      Of course they're cozy with the governing party.

      And if the other party takes control they'll be cozy with them.

      You bribe whomever can do something for you in return.

      And you pay something to their enemies to keep them around in case the people in power get too greedy and need replacing with someone who'll give you more bang for your bribe buck--that way the the people in power know not to get too greedy lest they kill the goose which is laying the golden eggs.

      • by mi (197448)

        Of course they're cozy with the governing party.

        And if the other party takes control they'll be cozy with them.

        You are implying sheer cynicism and I wish, it were this simple. It is not — the media-holdings of both companies are, quite (in)famously Illiberal. The National Review article [nationalreview.com] I linked to has the detail. The sole Democrat fighting the merger is a clown [huffingtonpost.com]...

  • Direct TV owns plenty of spectrum. That's probably what ATT wants and probably would preclude the FCC granting such an action.
  • Dear AT&T (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slapout (93640) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:23AM (#46888359)

    Dear AT&T,

    How about using some of that money to improve your current service?

  • This is how the internet ends...
    This is how the internet ends...
    This is how the internet ends...
    Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

  • I have been planning to cancel my directv subscription for months. I have an antenna and use my Roku or AppleTV boxes for other content. If I cancel, I save $150 per month. While some here predict that a merger will kill the internet, I believe the internet has already won the content delivery wars, providers simply haven't received the message. How many network feeds like ESPN, HGTV or even Disney for $150 per month? Based on the cost of Netflix and Amazon Prime, I am guessing quite a few. Goodbye Directv,

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I dropped DirecTV last week, but it was only $70 for me, and a bargain compared to the competition. Still too much though given that most shows I watched have ended and I was down to only 2 shows watched regularly.

  • by PRMan (959735) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @09:32AM (#46888797)
    As a happy DirecTV subscriber for over 14 years who has a lifetime ban against AT&T (and really has no desire to work with multiple-time Worst Company in America holder Comcast), these actions will absolutely ensure that I become a cord-cutter.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    I love DirecTV too much to let it be ruined by AT&T!!!!!!!!!!

  • ooooooooooooooooooooo!

    It's bad enough that TiVo is mostly gone -- even the plain-vanilla DVR that comes with DirecTV is decent and is WAY better than the shit that comes with U-Verse. My sister has U-verse and hates it. I tried it for a month when AT&T upgraded my internet connection (DSL to fiber-to-the-curb) and I also hated it. It so is ungodly bad in so many ways I can't even begin to list them all. On top of the horrible UI, my sister came back from a 2-week business trip to find that her DVR lost

    • by nytes (231372)

      It used to take around 25 button pushes to turn closed captions on or off on U-verse. I'd like to know how they came up with their usage scenarios when designing this that interface.

      Thankfully, they've added a shortcut that reduces it to around six button pushes, but still... Why does it only take one button on my DVD player?

  • Oligopolies almost always suck. They use the excuse of "economies of scale", but in practice the lack of incentives under an oligopoly is a much bigger drag than lack of economies of scale. The few players in the market tend to mutually settle on a uniform mediocre or low product and service level and each grow complacent because customers have to choose between Larry, Mo, or Curly: all 3 suck and switching from say Mo to Curly still leaves you with an idiot running the show. (I'm not talking about service,

  • I wish this were a modern web site where we could paste reaction gifs like Michael Scott screaming calmly, "No! God no! No! God no! Nooooooooooo"

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill

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