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Inside Move: DirecTV talks falter again

News Corp. folks 'very frustrated,' insider sez

Don’t look now, but it appears that those contentious and interminable talks between News Corp. and DirecTV have hit a rough patch yet again.

“Things seems to have slowed down. I know our people are very frustrated,” says one person close to News Corp.

News Corp. chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch hinted that all was not rosy in a TV interview several weeks ago when he handicapped the chances of a deal with DirecTV at 50-50. The comment surprised many inside and outside the company.

A sweetened offer by News Corp. and a new round of negotiations, publicly acknowledged by both sides, had convinced many on Wall Street that a merger might be signed, sealed and delivered some time in June — a summer gift to News Corp. shareholders and a catalyst for the stock.

One investor accuses EchoStar chief Charlie Ergen of “mucking up the water” with veiled hints that the smaller satcaster might make a play for its larger rival.

But most Wall Streeters doubt that regulators would ever sanction the marriage of the nation’s only two broadcast satellite companies of any heft, pointing to some Hughes Electronics shareholders, company topper Michael Smith and the complexity of the deal as the real stumbling blocks.