AT&T-DirecTV deal faces early criticism

BY Sam Lane  May 19, 2014 at 6:31 PM EST

AT&T’s proposed takeover of satellite television giant DirecTV faced some scrutiny Monday morning, fewer than 24 hours after the deal’s announcement.

Appearing on CNN’s “New Day,” Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, said he’s “very skeptical” of the merger and would like to see some congressional hearings on the issue.

“This usually leads to higher fees for consumers and less choices, usually,” he said. “We need to keep as much competition in the space. This is going exactly the wrong direction … And the fewer players there are in the space, I believe the worse it is for consumers. And we’re going to be — my constituents in Minnesota will be paying more for cable. This is a bad trend.”

Franken has voiced his opposition to large media mergers in the past. Last month, during a hearing on Comcast’s plans to purchase Time Warner Cable, Franken said the deal was not good for competition and was not in the public’s interest.

“There’s no doubt that Comcast is a huge, influential corporation, and I understand that there are over 100 lobbyists making the case for this deal to members of Congress and our staffs,” he said at the time. “But I’ve also heard from over 100,000 consumers who oppose this deal, and I think their voices need to be heard too.”

AT&T would buy DirecTV for nearly $50 billion in cash and stocks, the Associated Press reported.

“This is a unique opportunity that will redefine the video entertainment industry and create a company able to offer new bundles and deliver content to consumers across multiple screens — mobile devices, TVs, laptops, cars and even airplanes,” Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO said in a statement on Monday.

Video by CNN