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FCC takes up EchoStar-Hughes review once more

Tue, 07/23/2002 - 8:00pm
Susan Rush

After putting the brakes on its review of EchoStar Communications Corp.'s proposed merger with Hughes Electronics until further public comment could be ascertained, the Federal Communications Commission is ready to kick its review back into high gear.

In March, the FCC halted its review and sought comment on the combined company's plan to launch a spot-beam satellite to enable the delivery of local channels in all 210-markets the combined company would serve. The FCC was seeking comment on how the local channels plan would affect competition.

The agency said that it has received the comment it was seeking, and will restart its 180-day merger review clock. The review is expected to be completed in about 100 days, but the FCC said it reserves the right to delay its decision if it finds that additional information is needed from any of the parties involved.

In October, Hughes' parent General Motors officially accepted EchoStar's $25.8 billion offer for the unit. The merger is designed to combine the No. 1 and No. 2 satellite providers — both of which are offering high-speed Internet access via two-way satellite — to create a powerhouse that could effectively compete with cable and increase broadband options for rural Americans, according to EchoStar. EchoStar submitted its merger application for review to the FCC in early December.

Both EchoStar and Hughes remain confident that the merger will get the green light from regulators.

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