AT&T claims merger is about ‘consumer demand’

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AT&T and DirecTV executives will make the case to lawmakers that the proposed $49 billion deal to merge the two companies is necessary to stay competitive.

“This transaction is about meeting consumer demand,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told members of the House Judiciary’s Antitrust subcommittee in his prepared testimony. “It’s about providing consumers with the integrated video and broadband Internet services they want, delivered over any type of device, to nearly anywhere in the country.”

AT&T offers phone and Internet service, but its television offerings do not turn a profit and “cannot meet the needs of enough consumers,” Stephenson claimed, noting that the company’s U-verse service operates in less than one-quarter of the country. And even in those markets, AT&T doesn’t have the “scale” to “to forge strong relationships with programmers and compete effectively against the dominant cable companies,” he said.

DirecTV, which has about 20 million TV subscribers in the US but no Internet service, needs the deal in order to keep up with the changing market, the satellite company’s chief executive Michael White added.

“If we want to compete effectively in today’s Internet-driven marketplace, we must adapt,” he claimed in prepared testimony. That means “integrated bundles” of TV and Internet service, like the deals offered by competitors at Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as the ability to offer subscribers chances to watch television online with companies like Netflix.

AT&T claims merger is about ‘consumer demand’