The delivery of televised entertainment or pay-TV will be changing for many Hill subscribers. Two major national business transactions are consolidating the market for “cable” service.
DirecTV, which delivers televised entertainment through satellite transmissions rather than a high-speed cable to the house, is now a unit of AT&T. The Federal Communications Commission approved AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV in July. The acquisition was announced in May 2014
As a concession to the FCC for approval, AT&T agreed to expand its high-speed fiber optic broadband network to 12.5 million customers and offer broadband services to low-income consumers at discounted rates. The company also agreed to improve Internet connections to schools and public libraries as well as abide by FCC rules on net neutrality.
After the merger was approved, AT&T told DirecTV customers that existing TV services would not change. The current TV channel lineup will remain the same.
“We will not increase prices as a result of this acquisition,” AT&T announced. “We are committed to giving customers the best value and service. In fact, in the coming weeks we will introduce new offers featuring greater value and convenience, and new levels of integration — across our TV, mobile and Internet services.”
Subscribers to “NFL Sunday Ticket” will continue through DirecTV. Currently, this programming is only available to DirecTV subscribers because of contractual limitations. The company hopes to change that policy in the future.
In the future, AT&T plans to deliver more video-content options over multiple screens, including wireless devices, tablets, laptops and computers.
AT&T, the former “Ma Bell,” is now the largest pay-TV provider, with more than 26 million subscribers, including 1.5 million in the Los Angeles region.
Time Warner Cable
Cable marketer Time Warner Cable has found a new partner with Charter Communications, following the dissolution of its proposed merger with Comcast.
In May, Time Warner and Charter announced their plans to merge only a month after the failed deal with Comcast. Charter also is acquiring the cable network of Bright House. Once these two deals close, the new company will serve nearly 24 million customers in 41 states.
Neither federal nor state regulatory authorities have announced any decision on the proposal. Stockholders of both corporations have approved the deal. But Dish Network Corp. has formally opposed the merger in a filing with the FCC. In July in a letter to the FCC, Netflix, which opposed the merger with Comcast, announced its support for this action.
“Netflix believes that this new policy and the commitment to apply it across the ‘New Charter’ footprint is a substantial public interest benefit and will support scaling the Internet to meet consumers’ growing demand for online services and help foster continued innovation across the Internet ecosystem,” wrote Christopher D. Libertelli, Netflix’s vice president of Global Public Policy. “Accordingly, Netflix supports the proposed Charter-Time Warner Cable transaction if it incorporates the merger condition proposed by Charter.”
Time Warner and Charter hope to close the merger in the first quarter of 2016.