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AT&T x DirecTV |

Stashed in: Illusion of Choice

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Mass consolidation means less choice.

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.”

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