The inevitable? Dish Network and DirecTV are reportedly in merger talks once again: DirecTV and Dish Network, the nation’s two declining satellite broadcasters, have nearly merged on a couple of occasions in the past, including one agreement that was scuttled in the early 2000s. More recently, both before and after DirecTV was spun off by AT&T last year, the chairman of Dish has called such a merger “inevitable” on numerous occasions.
Now, a new report says talks for a potential merger between the companies are once again underway.
According to the New York Post, which often broke news during the DirecTV spinoff talks in 2020 and 2021, reported Wednesday that DirecTV and Dish are in “fresh talks” about a merger. The Post said that TPG Capital, the private equity giant that bought 30 percent of DirecTV as part of he AT&T spinoff last year, is pushing hardest for the merger. However, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen, the executive who has regularly called such a deal “inevitable,” is “dragging his feet on finalizing a deal.”
The Post’s sources stated that “insiders are optimistic a Dish Network-DirecTV deal could pass regulatory muster as concerns about the market power of the struggling companies have waned.”
Dish Network & DirecTV: How Would They Merge?
It’s not exactly clear how the merger would work financially, what the combined company would be called, and which company would own how much of the combined company.
The last time there was serious talk of a DirecTV/Dish merger, during the DirecTV bidding in 2020, there were indications from the Justice Department that such a deal would not be approved by regulators. However, two years have passed, with 5G rollout further along than it was before.
Meanwhile, following the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package last year, which committed $65 billion for rural broadband. That could cause many people in those parts of the country to embrace cord-cutting, when they were not able to do so previously.
There is also a different administration is in charge in Washington. The Biden Administration, however, has taken a fairly tough posture on antitrust matters thus far, with big tech critic Lina Khan as head of the Federal Trade Commission.
One person, described by the newspaper as “close to the deal,” argued that “both are decaying, dying channels — you can’t argue there is an antitrust issue.”
The Post report came just a day after a note from analyst Rich Greenfield of Lightshed, predicting that the satellite companies could merge in 2022.
“We believe the regulatory risks today are not high given the state of the Pay TV market. Frankly, if [Dish Network Chairman Charlie] Ergen can’t get it announced this year, it might never happen,” Greenfield wrote in the note, as cited by FierceVideo.
Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.