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Murdoch Predicts OK for Merger

From Bloomberg News

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said U.S. regulators would find it difficult to reject a merger of his DirecTV Group Inc. and rival satellite television provider EchoStar Communications Corp.

The union of two of the largest U.S. satellite operators would pose less of a threat to competition than in the past because consumers have more ways to get news and entertainment, Murdoch said on “The Charlie Rose Show” Thursday.

“There are so many alternatives, ways of getting pictures and information,” Murdoch said. “I think it would be much harder for the government to turn it down.”

Murdoch didn’t say whether News Corp. or DirecTV is in talks to buy the smaller EchoStar, or whether he wants to bid for it. Antitrust regulators rejected EchoStar’s attempt in 2001 to buy DirecTV when it was a unit of General Motors Corp. News Corp., which bought a controlling stake in DirecTV in 2003, had lobbied against EchoStar’s bid.

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Shares of Englewood, Colo.-based EchoStar gained 38 cents to $33.36. DirecTV, based in El Segundo, rose 6 cents to $16.71.

The Times reported Monday that DirecTV is considering a bid. A merger is more likely since EchoStar and DirecTV formed a joint venture to bid for wireless spectrum in an auction next month, Citigroup analyst Jason Bazinet wrote in a note Wednesday.


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