While the folks at AT&T and DirecTV try to claim that their proposed merger is different from the pending marriage of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, both deals have one bit of double-talk in common, with the companies all saying their respective deals will help them be more efficient and save money while no one is willing to commit to passing those savings on to customers.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, AT&T CEO Randall “Milhouse Van Houten” Stephenson explained that his company’s acquisition of DirecTV would result in overall cost savings.
But when asked by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal if AT&T would “be passed onto the consumer, dollar for dollar,” Darth Stephenson said he couldn’t.
“No sir, I can’t,” he told Blumenthal, saying he didn’t want to intimate that “That prices will go down” because of the merger.
Blumenthal pressed the issue, asking if the merger would at least result in smaller or less-frequent increases in customers’ rates.
Again, Randy hedged.
“As I mentioned, it’s a bit episodic. It’s a bit specific,” he replied.
To which Blumenthal accurately responded, “I think a lot of consumers would find that answer unsatisfying.”
Finding reserve talking-point power in his trademark lacquered hairdo, Stephenson explained, “We believe one would have to believe in the market, and market pressures, and that market pressures will drive down margins… Cost savings will find their ways into prices.”
If this all sounds familiar, it’s virtually identical to the claims that Comcast’s merger whisperer David Cohen has been making about his company’s merger with TWC.
“There’s nothing in this transaction that will cause cable bills to go up,” Cohen told the same committee back in April.
AT&T: Buying DirecTV would cut our costs — but probably not yours [Washington Post]