Speaking of big media, satellite TV rivals Dish Network and DirecTV are ganging together to buy up as much spectrum as they can in the FCC’s Aug. 9 auction. Teaming up under the name Wireless DBS LLC the companies are looking to win the right to use Advanced Wireless Services spectrum which they could use to enhance their ability to offer broadband audio and video content to consumers.
It looks like the two satellite TV providers are worried about the threat of broadband video service that are being rolled out by telephone and cable companies. The telcos and cable operators are looking to offer a bundle of three services–video, telephone and internet-in one package, while satellite can only offer one.
But this venture to cooperate on buying up spectrum could be an indicator of something bigger looming in the satellite TV market: a possible merger between DirecTV and Dish Network. Together the two companies have 27 million subscribers.
On a recent edition of the Charlie Rose show, media baron Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp owns a controlling stake in DirecTV, said that he believes such a merger would not be a threat to competition because consumers have much more access to video programming than before.
It’s a familiar argument being made by big media players across different telecommunications sectors, and by the FCC itself. But the rates for telephone, cable and internet service keep going up, despite the supposed increase in choice for consumers.
While neither Dish nor DirecTV are commenting on merger rumors, public interest groups are not likely to take such a move lying down, especially since satellite TV services represent the only competition to cable television in most cities and towns.
Of course, after Aug. 9, we’ll probably know more about what the satellite giants are planning.