Skip to comments.Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: 'You scare the hell out of me'...
Posted on 05/09/2003 5:01:59 PM PDT by ConservativeMan55
Murdoch defends DirecTV deal at U.S. House hearing Thu May 8, 2003 02:52 PM ET By Peter Kaplan WASHINGTON, May 8 (Reuters) - News Corp. Ltd. Chairman Rupert Murdoch on Thursday parried criticism from Democratic lawmakers of his company's bid to buy U.S. satellite provider DirecTV and basked in praise from Republicans enamored with his conservative cable news channel.
Murdoch dismissed suggestions by some Democrats and consumer advocates that News Corp. NCP.AX NWS.N could use its vast array of TV programming as a weapon against DirecTV's satellite and cable competitors.
"Neither News Corp. nor DirecTV has any incentive to engage in anti-competitive behavior," the Australian-born Murdoch told the House Judiciary Committee.
The media conglomerate announced last month that it is planning to buy a controlling stake in DirecTV's parent company, Hughes Electronics Corp. GMH.N , for $6.6 billion in stock and cash from automaker General Motors Corp. GM.N
For News Corp., DirecTV and its 11.3 million subscribers would provide a big U.S. platform to distribute the news and sports channels it owns, and complement its extensive satellite operations in Europe and Asia.
But the deal must get approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department's antitrust division. Some consumer groups have raised questions about how it would affect competition.
At Thursday's hearing, Murdoch renewed past promises that News Corp. would make key programming like sports and local broadcast stations available to competitors like EchoStar Communications Corp. DISH.O or cable companies at a reasonable cost.
SPARRING OVER POLITICS
Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, asked Murdoch to promise that News Corp. would abide by the promise even if the FCC drops the open access rules that it imposes on cable operators.
Boucher also asked for a pledge that News Corp. would not charge competitors for the rights to carry the signals of the hundreds of local over-the-air broadcast stations that it owns around the United States.
But Murdoch turned down both ideas, saying they would put the company at a disadvantage.
Murdoch argued that it wouldn't make sense for News Corp. to withhold programming from DirecTV rivals because that would be too damaging to News Corp.'s core business.
Satellite rival EchoStar edged out Murdoch in 2001 when it reached a $30 billion deal with Hughes. But regulators scuttled the deal a year later, citing concerns that the merger would harm competition.
Some other Democrats expressed fears that the deal would accelerate consolidation of the U.S. media and cut back the diversity of news outlets.
A few of the Democrats complained about the conservative tone of News Corp.'s Fox News Channel, the No. 1 cable news network, and accused it of being a "cheerleader" for the Bush administration.
"Maybe we should make a lot more noise than we're making," California Democrat Maxine Waters told Murdoch. "You scare the hell out of me."
Murdoch countered that Fox News featured liberal as well as conservative commentators. He said Fox had succeeded in the market by differentiating itself from other cable news shows.
Most of the Republicans on the committee agreed with Murdoch, and they had little but praise for him, his cable news program and the DirecTV deal.
"If my wife doesn't get a good dose of Fox News every morning, she gets pretty grumpy," said Judiciary committee chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin.
Right back atcha, Maxine, baby!
As if she hasn't made a few run up a tree like frightened squirrels.
IMHO they reflect their electorate. That is truly scary.
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