DirecTV's 'Possible' Future

10:15 AM -- He gave himself plenty of wiggle room, but Liberty Media Corp. (NYSE: LMC) president and CEO Greg Maffei applied a fresh coat of lacquer on a long-running rumor that DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), the nation's largest satellite TV operator, may someday end up in the hands of a telco.

Maffei told the Associated Press as much, suggesting that a sale is possible after DirecTV is spun off and its ownership structure simplified. (See DirecTV to Spin Off, Gain Weight .)

Under the pre-spinoff structure, a sale of DirecTV "would have been very hard to accomplish," Maffei told AP. Afterward, "it becomes possible."

Although Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is a speculative dark horse, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has been long-considered the front-runner should DirecTV seek a suitor. (See Will AT&T Seek Satellite Help? and AT&T-EchoStar Rumor Upgraded to 'Likely' .)

Last week, DirecTV said first-quarter revenues rose 7 percent, to $4.90 billion, while adding 460,000 net subscribers, the highest in four years, and 67 percent greater than the year-ago period. Analysts were expecting DirecTV to produce just 275,000 net adds in the quarter. (See DirecTV Subs Surge in Q1.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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