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DirecTV to Hike Prices After Owner AT&T Promised Cheaper Bills

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DirecTV to Hike Prices After Owner AT&T Promised Cheaper Bills

 
Old 03-15-2019, 07:59 AM
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69L46
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Default DirecTV to Hike Prices After Owner AT&T Promised Cheaper Bills

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-cheaper-bills
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  • AT&T told judge in antitrust trial DirecTV prices would drop
  • Price increase underscores risk of consumer harm from mergers

AT&T Inc. is hiking prices on its pay TV services for the second time since January, even after telling a judge during the U.S. antitrust trial last year that prices would go down if it was allowed to buy Time Warner Inc.

Next month, most of the 1.6 million subscribers of DirecTV Now, a live TV streaming service, will be charged $10 a month more as AT&T changes its programming packages. That follows a price increase in January for its traditional satellite service.

The higher bills could fuel a growing debate over whether Washington’s antitrust watchdogs are too permissive in allowing corporate consolidation. While companies seeking approval for mergers argue their deals won’t hurt consumers, research shows their claims often don’t pan out.

“This is yet another example of how merging companies make promises that agencies will not and cannot enforce,” said Gigi Sohn, a former official at the Federal Communications Commission and now a fellow at Georgetown University’s law school.

The risk that a merger could lead to higher bills for consumers is now center stage in T-Mobile US Inc.’s $26.5 billion proposed takeover of Sprint Corp., which would combine the No. 3 and No. 4 national mobile carriers. T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere has repeatedly vowed lower prices and better service would result from the deal.

Democrats who won control of the House in the fall elections were skeptical at a hearing Tuesday on the merger. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, chairman of the House antitrust panel, said the deal would likely give the combined company the incentive and ability to raise prices and lower wages.

“The only thing preventing the merging parties from raising prices, lowering quality and depressing wages are promises for a limited period of time,” he said.

Members of Congress don’t have a direct role in merger reviews, but seek to influence authorities who directly vet the deals: Justice Department antitrust officials and FCC commissioners.

The question of higher prices was at the core of the government’s antitrust lawsuit last year seeking to block AT&T from buying Time Warner in its bid to create a media powerhouse. AT&T countered that prices would drop instead.

University of Chicago economist Dennis Carlton testified on behalf of the company that “AT&T is going to have an incentive to get more customers and in particular AT&T’s price -- the DirecTV price -- will go down to consumers,” Carlton said. “That’s clear.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected the Justice Department’s arguments that buying Time Warner would lead to higher prices for cable and satellite-TV subscribers, delivering a victory to AT&T.

Dallas-based AT&T defended the price increase in a statement Wednesday. The company said that the DirecTV acquisition provided the scale to acquire programming rights which allowed it to offer DirecTV Now at “significantly lower” prices than its traditional DirecTV service.

Critics said the higher bills are a consequence of the merger that was foreseen.

“The price increase is precisely the type of harm the Justice Department warned the court about,” said Gene Kimmelman, a former antitrust official who is president of the policy group Public Knowledge. “Unfortunately, Judge Leon did not adequately credit this antitrust reasoning and the result is big price hikes for consumers.”

AT&T’s arguments about pricing also helped persuade the FCC and the Justice Department to approve the company’s purchase of DirecTV in 2015, adding about 20 million new U.S. customers. The FCC said in its order approving the $48.5 billion deal that the combined company will be a more effective competitor, “offering consumers greater choice at lower prices.”

Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive officer, testified to Congress in 2014 about “downward pressure” on prices that would result from the acquisition of DirecTV, but didn’t commit to lowering bills.

In December, Stephenson said that the company was reworking the DirecTV Now product. “We’re thinning out the content, getting the price point right, getting it to where it’s profitable,” Stephenson said at a media and communications conference.

AT&T kicked off 2019 with higher prices on its DirecTV service, raising rates on all English-language video packages by between $3 to $8 a month, while raising fees for regional sports networks by $1 to $1.90 in most markets.

Next month, most DirecTV Now subscribers will see a $10 a month increase. New customers have a choice of a 40 channel package that includes HBO for $50 or a $70 package with 50 channels including HBO and Cinemax. Existing customers can keep their plans, but many will see a $10 increase.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:10 AM
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:34 AM
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I wont deal with AT&°T again. Terrible customer service and high prices.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by phileaglesfan View Post
I wont deal with AT&°T again. Terrible customer service and high prices.

I have yet to find one of these providers who treat the customer as they should. This example only illustrates it further.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:52 AM
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I honestly hope they do. This is just the excuse I need to cancel Direct TV. Our bill just went up to $180 after the last increase and both the wife and I agreed if there is one more price increase they can shove their dish up their ***.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:41 AM
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The outfir that operates CNN lied? Color me shocked!!
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
I honestly hope they do. This is just the excuse I need to cancel Direct TV. Our bill just went up to $180 after the last increase and both the wife and I agreed if there is one more price increase they can shove their dish up their ***.
I almost cut the cable with the last price hike, but got the price back down with some programming changes. I am at my cutoff point for Charter at $130 including internet. I mostly watch local news, Fox Bus and Fox News which are now steamed through other sources. The only reason I remain with Charter is the convenience of the DVR and good quality picture. It will cost me $60 a month just for internet so I may as well hold on for now until the next price hike causes me to cancel for good.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:05 AM
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Cancel your television service entirely and see how much better life gets.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:10 AM
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Of course they did, now its time to Antitrust their asses.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:17 AM
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I just got off the phone with Direct TV and told them we would cancel if another increase was seen this year. The tech I spoke with said there is no plans to increase it again this year.
Time will tell.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:25 AM
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I sure do miss the old days of C-Band satellite. Where everything including multiple channels of all the premiums cost $120/yr!
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Red99SS View Post
Cancel your television service entirely and see how much better life gets.
From a long standing Cable Cutter! As the saying goes.... 60 channels and still nothing to watch.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:49 AM
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only reason I keep cable is our HOA negotiated a deal for $8mo for basic cable and 2nd tier internet service....4 years left on that deal. I pay $16 as I have 3 boxes...we will see what happens in 4 years...we don't need or watch any movie channels no Netflix or any of that ****....both TVs are set to come on the channel that shows the Lightning games...after hockey season who cares

I thought about going to DISH and keeping internet for $8

Last edited by pewter99; 03-15-2019 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:58 PM
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Network TV is absolute garbage. It’s all run by globalist corporations. My wife gets Hulu and I watched some network “documentaries”. Total propaganda rubbish. I was like holy sh*t no wonder so many people in our country are dumber than f*ck. They watch this trash four, five, six hours a day. Even Netflix is sh**. YouTube and Klowdtv are worth checking out for programming that isn’t directed towards brainwashed morons.
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Red99SS View Post
Cancel your television service entirely and see how much better life gets.
Did that about 6 or 7 years ago and don't miss it a bit. At $70 then it was too much to spend to watch nothing but ads and pay for the ability to watch stupid shows.
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Red99SS View Post
Cancel your television service entirely and see how much better life gets.
This. Been almost two years and I should have done it 40 years ago.

I do have YT Premium and YT TV for the wife. I watch maybe 5 mins a week on YT TV before a commercial comes on and I want to lose my ****.

Oh, I do watch golf on it. But they keep broadcasting through commercials, split screen.
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:45 PM
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I got disgusted with Comcast for the same reasons as in the OP. We cable cut and now use OTA, Netflix and Amazon. We don't miss the programming or the $150 bill.
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