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Making Sense of AT&T's $48.5 Billion Bid to Buy DirecTV


Stashed in: Illusion of Choice, Business Matters

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Choice us becoming an illusion:

AT&T agreed on Sunday to buy the satellite television operator DirecTV for $48.5 billion, trying to tilt the balance of power with media companies as the market for broadband Internet and video shifts.

With the acquisition, AT&T becomes the latest telecommunications giant seeking to establish an even greater reach.

Comcast agreed in February to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, a bid to become the country’s dominant provider of cable TV and high-speed Internet access. And Sprint, which is controlled by the Japanese telecom company SoftBank, has made no secret of its desire to merge with T-Mobile USA, creating a serious rival to Verizon and AT&T.

“The media chessboard is moving more this year than it has in the past decade,” said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst with the brokerage firm BTIG. “You’re seeing major shifts. Everyone is jockeying for position.”

The newest round of consolidation may weigh heavily on the minds of government regulators, who have expressed growing concern that the nation’s television and Internet services are increasingly controlled by just a few corporate behemoths.

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