FCC Approves $48.5 Billion AT&T-DirecTV Merger

The FCC just approved AT&T’s $48.5 billion acquisition of satellite TV provider DirecTV.

From today’s FCC statement:

“The Commission’s decision is based on a careful, thorough review of the record, which includes extensive economic analysis and documentary data from the applicants, as well as comments from interested parties. Based on this review, the Commission has determined that granting the application, subject to certain conditions, is in the public interest.”

With this deal, AT&T becomes the largest pay TV company in the world, with nearly 26 million active subscribers. The acquisition has raised a few eyebrows, especially in the wake of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal that was called off earlier this year, but the FCC went through with approving the purchase while stipulating a few specific conditions, as well.

The deal requires the combined entity to deploy “high-speed, fiber optic broadband Internet access service to 12.5 million customer locations as well as to E-rate eligible schools and libraries,” obey net neutrality provisions where it could attempt to squeeze small video providers, and, also allow the FCC to review any interconnection — peering — agreements that it inks.

That list — expansion, restriction and explanation — may assuage concerns from those who generally oppose the combination of broadband or cable providers.

The now-abandoned attempt by Comcast to purchase Time Warner Cable would have resulted in the entity controlling a roughly 40 percent market share of the U.S. broadband market. Following stiff governmental pushback, the deal was scuttled. In this case, the government appears more confident that anticompetitive pressure resulting from the deal won’t overly distort the market.