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Tonight at 11:30PM Eastern TechTV (Silicon Spin) will be airing:

Talkback: Satellite TV Monopoly?


Tuesday on 'Spin': If EchoStar and DirecTV merge, over 90 percent of US satellite TV signals will be controlled by one gigantic company. Is this good for consumers?


By Dave Roos, Web producer

October 29, 2001

More than 16 million couch potatoes can't be wrong.

Satellite television is gaining ground quickly on cable as the provider of choice for many Americans. Satellite service seems especially attractive to rural residents who live far beyond the reaches of subterranean cable lines.

Consumer advocacy groups love to see little dishes popping up on rooftops. To them, the rise of satellite television means stronger competition in the pay-TV sector and possibly even lower prices across the board.

Consumer groups have long criticized the cable television system, accusing it of supporting mini-monopolies across the nation, frustrating subscribers with ever-increasing monthly fees in the process.

Now, it looks like satellite providers want a share of the monopoly moolah.

This past weekend, No. 2 US satellite television provider EchoStar signed a deal with General Motors to acquire Hughes Electronics, the owner of leading satellite service DirecTV. If the EchoStar/DirecTV deal is allowed to go through, more than 90 percent of US satellite television subscribers -- 16.7 million households -- will be sending checks to a single company.

EchoStar, which provides satellite services under the Dish Network brand, sees the mammoth merger as a boon for consumers. US cable television providers, it argues, control 80 percent of the pay-TV market. In comparison, EchoStar and DirecTV are the little guys, constituting a combined 17 percent of the subscriber market.

Of course, that 80 percent figure represents dozens of small and large cable providers while the 17 percent -- after this merger -- will be controlled by one huge company.

The Department of Justice will make the final call regarding possible antitrust objections to the merger. For its part, EchoStar has made clear that it's willing to sign deals with the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission to cap its monthly subscription fees and even open its airwaves to competing content providers.

Talkback: Is the EchoStar/DirecTV merger good for consumers?

Will the merger increase competition between cable and satellite, or will it simply create two separate monopolies?

Will EchoStar play fair, like it has promised?

Should the DOJ allow the merger to pass?

Let's hear your opinion. Post a message in the Talkback section below, or contact us directly through email, vmail, or netcam. If you're lucky (and smart), we'll read your comments on air.

Copyright TechTV.com 2001


I just figured that many of you had questions and maybe some could be answered by watching this show tonight at 11:30PM EDT on TechTV.

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