TV Answer Man, I agree with you that I think DIRECTV and Dish will merge and probably sooner than later. But who do you think will run the company? If it’s Charlie Ergen, I’m afraid that we will have more channel blackouts because Dish has so many. What do you think? — Jess, New Haven, Connecticut.
Jess, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen sent tongues wagging last week when he hinted a merger between satcasters DIRECTV and Dish was not only “inevitable,” but it could happen soon after Tuesday’s mid-term congressional elections.
“You’re hesitant to be a political football for somebody to complain about big companies or whatever in an election cycle. But that election cycle is over next week. And then you have a window, where I think all companies are looking at M&A,” Ergen told financial analysts last week in a conference call following the release of the company’s third quarter report.
He added: ““If the timing (of a DIRECTV-Dish merger) was right, it would be in the near term, not the longer term.”
I’ve received several reader e-mails since Ergen’s remarks that express concern over the possibility of the Dish chief running both companies as one. Ergen’s Dish has been embroiled in more carriage disputes than any other pay TV company over the last several years and industry analysts say he is the reason why. The former professional blackjack player turned satellite icon is a fierce competitor and tough negotiator. He’s not afraid to allow a channel to go dark if he judges the programmer’s terms to be unfair.
I don’t think you can say with certainty that Ergen would run a DIRECTV-Dish company the same way. The combined entities would have more than 20 million subscribers and therefore more leverage in carriage talks. But Ergen is Ergen so you would have to expect more blackouts than normal.
However, would the new company be run by Ergen or some joint arrangement between Dish and DIRECTV’s co-owners, AT&T and private equity firm, TPG? Or perhaps even by the current management team at DIRECTV?
I think it’s crystal clear that it would be Ergen. AT&T has made it clear that it’s no longer interested in being part of the entertainment business; the company spun off DIRECTV and Warner Media (merged with Discovery and now run by Discovery chief David Zaslav.) It would be a total reversal for AT&T to suddenly decide it wants to run a larger satellite company at a time when satellite subscribers are shedding like a big cat on a small couch.
In addition, TPG is in the DIRECTV business simply to make money. It has no pretenses of becoming a pay TV player. The Dish merger could allow the private equity firm to walk away with a profit and move on to its next conquest.
So, yes, if DIRECTV and Dish merge, Charlie Ergen will become chairman of the company, as he now is for Dish, and install his people at CEO and elsewhere to carry out his vision which would include the satellite business, the streaming business, and the wireless business.
Jess, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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Well if Ergen is in charge after a merger…there goes my Bally Sports.
It sounds as if even more disgruntled customers will bail on the satellite TV Industry should Ergen take the reins of the whole thing.
With streaming companies combining it might be possible mergers will will grow among those platforms.
That could create a higher price for customers trying to cut costs already, but having to pay multiple streaming platforms in order to watch your favorite programs.
So many will be forced to forgo some of their favorite programs by deciding which streaming service they can afford.
And not everyone has access to high speed internet service to watch those programs without the possibility of the dreaded buffering message popping up.
We all know cable TV is not far behind in price to be able to view your favorite shows or sports.
So are we damned if we do, or damned if we don’t.
But we all will be damn angry if costs rise on the other avenues available just to watch our beloved shows, as well as local and distant sports teams.
Of course Washington DC is trying to get high speed internet to the masses, but the cost for that might put a hardship on people with minimum wage jobs.
Thank God local radio stations are free to listen to, if you can afford the radio itself.
I heard thru rumors, AT&T is Gone from DirecTV
Some customers said TPG is now in Total control.
Is this true ? or is AT&T still in the Drivers seat ?
(3 Board Members from AT&T and 2 Board Members from TPG)
As I said years ago, be careful what you wish for, ala carte will kill the game.
I have to ask you, what about all the pricing programming , we have, grandfathered in, a certain price for a set of programming, a merger will probably blow those out of the water, will all stations on both DTV and Dish become available?
Now that the mid terms are all but over, and nothing really changed, can we say, that the merger is off?