News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has fuelled speculation that his DirecTV satellite broadcaster might merge with US pay-TV rival EchoStar. Interviewed on US television Murdoch said it was likely that a merger of the satellite TV groups would gain regulatory approval. "There are so many alternative ? ways of getting pictures and information. I think it would be much harder for the government to turn it down," said Murdoch.
Murdoch stopped short of confirming whether News Corp or DirecTV was directly in talks to acquire EchoStar, or whether he planned to make a bid.
An attempt by EchoStar's CEO Charlie Ergen to acquire DirecTV—then owned by General Motors—was blocked by regulators nearly five years ago. The move allowed Murdoch to buy a controlling stake in DirecTV in 2003, fulfilling his long-held ambition of owning a US satellite broadcaster.
DirecTV and its smaller rival EchoStar have a joint venture to develop wireless services, and are set to bid in a spectrum auction next month.
Meanwhile Murdoch has apparently settled a dispute over who will succeed him at News Corporation. Seventy-five-year-old Murdoch said in the US television interview that his four older children from his first two marriages would control News Corp after his death, and not his latest wife, Wendi Deng, and their two young daughters. "If I go under the wheels of a bus tomorrow the four of them will have to decide which of them should head the company," said Murdoch.
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