WASHINGTON — Congressional lawmakers promised Monday to hold hearings into AT&T’s proposed $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV.
“The proposed AT&T and DirecTV merger would be the fourth-largest telecommunications merger in history,” four top House Judiciary Committee members said. “The committee has a strong record of reviewing proposed transactions that could have a significant impact on consumers and the competitive marketplace.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., implied that his panel would bring in top company executives for a hearing as well.
“With this latest proposed merger, I am concerned that the telecommunications marketplace is trending even further toward one that favors big companies over consumers,” Leahy said.
Both committees held hearings recently on Comcast’s proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable.
Congress has no direct role in approving major corporate mergers, which are formally reviewed by regulators. But hearings on Capitol Hill allow lawmakers to publicly question company executives. The hearings also can give consumer groups, competitors and other opponents a forum to air complaints.
The AT&T-DirecTV deal will need approval from the Federal Communications Commission and either the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission.
The FCC and Justice Department already are reviewing the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.