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NCTA Raises Concerns About SBC-AT&T Merger

In an unexpected move, the NCTA is thrusting itself into the public policy debate over SBC Communications' planned $16 billion buyout of AT&T Corp. Outgoing NCTA President & CEO Robert Sachs issued a statement Monday expressing problems with the deal, arguing that the proposed combination "raises obvious antitrust concerns that regulatory authorities will have to scrutinize carefully." Sachs added that the NCTA "will work closely with federal and state regulatory authorities as they examine the proposed SBC-AT&T transaction." While it's not surprising that cable interests don't welcome the deal, the NCTA hardly ever asks the feds to regulate competitors. In fact, NCTA executives usually take pride in not seeking government intervention. Instead, they prefer to let individual cable operators fight proposed mergers by rivals. So what's different this time? Perhaps the proposed SBC-AT&T union worries too many MSOs for them to tackle it on their own. Or perhaps the phone business is already so important to cable interests that they want the NCTA directly involved. Or perhaps MSOs just want to delay the merger as long as possible.
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