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CWA says AT&T-DIRECTV merger will advance broadband buildout, help consumers, Workers

16 Sep, 2014

Washington, D.C. -- Statement by the Communications Workers of America on our filing with the Federal Communications Commission in support of the proposed AT&T/DIRECTV merger:

The proposed AT&T/DIRECTV merger will advance the deployment of high-speed broadband, strengthen competition in the video and broadband markets, and promote collective bargaining and good, career jobs, the Communications Workers of America said in comments filed today with the Federal Communications Commission.  CWA urged the Commission to move forward expeditiously to approve the transaction.

The proposed AT&T/DIRECTV combination will provide a stronger competitor in the video and broadband markets, giving consumers an alternative to the dominant cable company, CWA said. A combined AT&T/DIRECTV, with a video customer base more than four times the size of AT&T’s video subscriber base today, will have the scale to negotiate lower, competitive prices for video programming. With lower outlays for programming, and the ability to offer DIRECTV's ’ video subscribers a video/broadband bundle provided by one company, a merged AT&T/DIRECT will be a more formidable competitor to the dominant, incumbent cable provider, with the potential to benefit consumers with lower prices, quality improvements, and service innovations.

The AT&T/DIRECTV merger will improve the economics for AT&T’s investment in high-speed broadband, the critical infrastructure for the 21st century, CWA said.  Video is the major driver of broadband expansion, producing the revenue stream to support investment in high-speed networks. As a stronger video competitor, a merged AT&T/DIRECTV will have the economic incentives to increase investment in the high-capacity networks that are so essential to drive economic growth, jobs, and the social benefits enabled by high-speed digital technology.

CWA noted that AT&T has made a commitment to expand its Gigapower all-fiber network to 2 million more customer locations than could have been economically justified absent the merger, and to offer a high-speed fixed wireless service to 13 million customers in rural America.

“The AT&T/DIRECTV transaction is good for employees and good, career U.S. jobs,” CWA said. AT&T has the largest full-time union labor force of any company in the United States and its collective bargaining agreements define pay and benefits, rights, protections, and fair treatment. AT&T respects the collective bargaining process, and as guaranteed by CWA’s collective bargaining agreements, AT&T’s labor relations policies that support collective bargaining will extend to DIRECTV’s non-management workforce after the transaction.  CWA represents 110,000 employees in AT&T’s wireline, wireless, and broadband lines of business.

In addition, CWA noted that the proposed merger poses, few, if any, anti-trust concerns. AT&T and DIRECTV primarily serve different markets. AT&T is largely a broadband and wireless carrier, whereas DIRECTV is a satellite video provider. AT&T is a new entrant in the video market. In local markets, DIRECTV competes against the dominant incumbent cable operators, but does not have a broadband service. AT&T has committed to offer standalone satellite video and retail DSL service at comparable prices for three years after the merger closing. AT&T also has committed to abide by the FCC’s 2010 Court-vacated Open Internet rules.

CWA: AT&T/DIRECTV Merger Will Advance Broadband Buildout and Benefit Consumers, Workers (CWA news release, Sep. 16, 2014)

Comments of Communications Workers of America (FCC filing, Sep. 16, 2014)



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