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Merger discussions between Dish, DirecTV fizzle out

The two companies have tried to combine several times over the last few decades.

The two companies have tried to combine several times over the last few decades.

A Dish Network satellite dish.
A Dish Network satellite dish. (Photo by Cody Logan via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

Discussions about a merger of the country’s two satellite TV providers Dish Network and DirecTV have apparently stalled, according to a new report published on Friday.

The New York Post says the cooling of merger talks between the two companies come as customers continue to ditch expensive cable and satellite platforms for cheaper, online-only options.

Dish and DirecTV each run their own streaming cable-like service — Sling TV and DirecTV Stream, respectively — and efforts to build out those platforms have been met with varying degrees of success.

Still, Sling TV and DirecTV Stream count considerably fewer subscribers than traditional satellite — even today, when the average pay TV bill is well north of $100 a month.

Dish and DirecTV have explored a combination several times in the past. Those conversations typically end with the companies figuring they would not get approval from federal regulators to merge.

With more competition from streaming platforms, the satellite companies figured they had more leverage this time around. It wasn’t clear why their recent conversations ultimately stalled.

Dish is currently in the process of grappling with the aftermath of an intense cybersecurity incident that left customers unable to pay their bills or contact support teams for several weeks earlier this year. The company is also tasked with building out a fourth wireless network to compete with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, using spectrum it acquired from Sprint several years ago.

The build out of a new network carries with it several regulatory-imposed deadlines, which Dish says it has met. But the Post says the company needs to raise more money if it wants to finish building a true, coast-to-coast network.

Things have gotten so tight at Dish that one source said its founder and chairman Charlie Ergen wants the company to start selling off assets, which could include some of its licensed spectrum.

“He is trying to sell everything that is non-core and to finance assets that are financeable,” the source told the Post. “The problem is, there are only very small things to sell. It’s a drop in the bucket.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).