It has now emerged that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will accelerate its review of a takeover bid by AT&T of satellite TV dealer DirecTV.
This is after a ruling by the US Court of Appeals that unlocked a standing dispute between TV programmers and FCC. Some of the programmers involved in the case include Viacom Inc., CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox.
Because of the case, FCC had tough times getting and processing information regarding to the takeover bid but the way has been cleared now. The programmers were unhappy with a directive by FCC requiring them to disclose their confidential details on their contracts to third parties. The court found the directive to be flawed handing the programmers a huge relief.
The ruling now means that FCC can move with speed to do a review of the takeover bid between AT&T and DirecTV. However, a spokesman of the FCC hinted at a possible appeal to the ruling. “We are studying the opinion now, and considering the options available to the commission,” he said. Immediately, National Association of Broadcasters released a statement through its spokesman Dennis Wharton saying they are satisfied with the ruling.
“We are delighted the court sided with broadcast networks and the National Assn. of Broadcasters in protecting highly confidential information from being widely disseminated during merger reviews.” Public Knowledge, a consumer rights group, also weighed in on the matter saying it could give rivals undue advantage especially with the takeover bid in mind. “It’s unfortunate that this decision could put hurdles in the way of outside parties who are trying to make the case against the AT&T-DirecTV or any other merger,” they said.
AT&T and DirecTV have not yet commented on the ruling but it’s believed they are in support. All eyes are now on FCC to see how fast they react in regards to the takeover bid review.