(Photo: Wmachine via Wikimedia Commons.)
The proposed merger between AT&T Inc. and DirecTV, announced this weekend, will receive antitrust scrutiny on Capitol Hill this year, leaders of the Senate and House judiciary committees said Monday.
The House Judiciary Committee intends to hold a hearing “to ensure that consumers’ interests are protected in an increasingly consolidated telecommunications marketplace,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and ranking member Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement.
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., chairman of the Judiciary regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law subcommittee was also on the statement, as well as the ranking member of that subcommittee, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.
“The proposed AT&T and DirecTV merger would be the fourth-largest telecommunications merger in history,” the House leaders said. “The committee has a strong record of reviewing proposed transactions that could have a significant impact on consumers and the competitive marketplace.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, did not say a hearing was planned. The committee, he said, “will be looking closely at this transaction.” The committee will also monitor the Federal Communications Commission and other antitrust authorities, Leahy said.
“DirecTV is a nationwide competitor with cable and plays an important role in providing television service to rural areas like Vermont,” Leahy said in a statement. “With this latest proposed merger, I am concerned that the telecommunications marketplace is trending even further toward one that favors big companies over consumers.”
The House and Senate judiciary committees completed hearings on another high-profile merger between Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. The Senate committee held its hearing April 9, and the House hearing was May 8.