GM, EchoStar to begin talks

Automaker to continue discussions with News Corp.

After a week of radio silence, Hughes Electronics parent General Motors has contacted EchoStar regarding its merger proposal and “will open up a dialogue with them,” GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti said over the weekend.

She stressed that the automaker continues discussions with News Corp., which has been laboriously pursuing a Hughes transaction for many months. It’s a painful prospect for Rupert Murdoch’s conglom that this last-ditch offer by EchoStar could hold things up even further, or possibly risk unseating News Corp. altogether. Most industry players and Wall Streeters, however, still expect Murdoch to emerge victorious.

Simonetti declined to characterize GM’s communications with EchoStar or discuss the timing of talks.

An EchoStar spokeswoman said GM contacted the Denver-based satcaster late Friday afternoon. “We did hear from GM We are in direct conversation with them,” she said.

EchoStar, which was rebuffed outright when it first approached Hughes about a merger earlier this year, went public with a new offer last Sunday worth $32 billion in stock at that time. This time EchoStar took its case directly to GM and appears to be having better luck, although serious antitrust issues cloud a potential merger of the nation’s top two satellite broadcast companies. EchoStar has about 6 million subscribers; Hughes’ DirecTV subsid has about 10 million.

Top management at Hughes has been reshuffled, and its chairman stepped down several months ago. Several Hughes execs, such as DirecTV topper Eddy Hartenstein, are said to favor a deal with News Corp. Such a merger would draw DirecTV into Murdoch’s global empire of content and distribution. Murdoch wants to use DirecTV as the centerpiece of a new international satellite unit called Sky Global Networks.

In the tradition of the spin wars that accompany takeover battles, people close to EchoStar have implied that a deal between it and Hughes would be less complex to work out on a number of fronts since EchoStar is a much smaller company than News Corp. and is purely domestic. News Corp. and DirecTV, for instance, both have operations in Latin America.

People close to News Corp. have said talks with Hughes are progressing nicely and insist an EchoStar bid would never get past regulators.

GM would not comment on a lawsuit by a Hughes shareholder that it is favoring News Corp. in the talks and isn’t giving proper consideration to EchoStar’s offer or holding an auction to sell Hughes to the highest bidder.

More TV


    Netflix Revises Controversial '13 Reasons Why' Suicide Scene

    Netflix has edited the controversial suicide scene from “Thirteen Reasons Why” two years after the show originally premiered. “We’ve heard from many young people that ’13 Reasons Why’ encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide and get help—often for the first time,” Netflix said in a statement Monday. “As we [...]

  • Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and

    Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and Heroic' 'Years and Years' Character

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the fourth episode of “Years and Years.” Russell T. Davies’ limited series “Years and Years” began with a birth, but it did not wait until the finale to book-end the story with a death. In the fourth episode of the multi-year spanning family drama, [...]

  • Hugh GRant photographed by Shayan Asgharnia

    Listen: Hugh Grant on Why He Would Kill Social Media if He Could

    Hugh Grant has been very active in U.K. press reform initiatives, but he knows the problem is even bigger than the media moguls who control the world’s major news outlets. That’s why Hacked Off, the campaign he’s involved with, is also expanding its scope to include the impact of online propaganda. “It’s particularly terrifying, the [...]

  • Veronica Mars -- "Heads You Lose"

    TV Review: 'Veronica Mars' Season 4

    “Veronica Mars” was a slap to the face of high school dramas when it premiered on UPN in 2004. Creator Rob Thomas took the well-worn “who killed the pretty teenager?” whodunnit and hard-boiled it, following a traumatized girl desperately trying to harden herself to the world’s harsh realities as she tried to solve the case. [...]

  • Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow

    Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow to Launch New Era at 'CBS Evening News'

    Though Norah O’Donnell had her first turn as anchor of “CBS Evening News” Monday night, she didn’t rely on any attention-grabbing tricks to carry the day. There was no flashy drawing board, no rattling off of unsettling, urgent headlines and no wrap-up of the day with a mawkish end segment calling up some element of [...]

  • Alton Brown

    TV News Roundup: Food Network Announces Premiere Date of 'Good Eats: The Return'

    In today’s roundup, Showtime releases a full-length trailer for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” and Food Network announces the return of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”  DATES After taking a break from the series, Alton Brown will bring “Good Eats” back to Food Network’s primetime lineup with “Good Eats: The Return.”  In its first [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content