Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Along with the usual regulatory and shareholder considerations of a massive merger, AT&T’s proposed $48.5 billion acquisition of DirectTV is also coming under the glare of Congress. On June 24, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) chaired a Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing about the deal. Along with other members of Congress, Klobuchar, who chairs the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, questioned top officials from AT&T and DirectTV about how the proposed merger would impact prices, innovation and the range of services offered to customers, according to her office.
“We’re not here to judge whether the merger is better for the bottom lines of these two companies or their shareholders, we’ll leave that to Wall Street. What we’re here to do is to make sense of what it will mean for consumers across the country,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “Today’s hearing was an opportunity to examine the effect this proposed merger would have on competition, innovation and the prices, choices and service offered to American families, and I will continue to do everything I can to protect consumers and competition in this industry.”
Randall L. Stephenson, president and CEO of AT&T, and Michael D. White, chairman and CEO of DirectTV, were among the witnesses, according to her office.
This is not the first time Klobuchar has trained her attention on the deal. Soon after the deal was announced in May, she and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) fired off a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, calling on the agencies to assess how the deal would impact consumers.
Congressional hearings notwithstanding, the DOJ and the FCC have the final say on whether mergers proceed. According to The New York Times, “Though knocked slightly off their game, the companies emerged from the hearings mostly unscathed.”