DOJ to thwart EchoStar-DirecTV marriage

Second gov't agency rejects union

Attorneys for the Justice Dept. plan to file suit to block a merger of rival satcasters EchoStar and DirecTV, according to press reports Wednesday. Their move comes despite a last-ditch effort by the partners to create competition in the industry by handing satellite frequencies and other support to Cablevision.

EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen met with DOJ officials Monday to talk up Cablevision as a solution to antitrust concerns over a combination of the nation’s only two significant satellite TV services.

The Federal Communications Commission rejected the merger on antitrust grounds, but gave the companies 30 days to file a revised proposal. EchoStar hoped convincing the DOJ before it made a final decision would push the FCC to reconsider.

Most Wall Streeters and industry players saw the flurry around Cablevision, a highly indebted cable company with attractive cable systems in the New York area, as a long shot at best.

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