So after a parade of articles about how Michael Powell is leading us back to the dark days of monopoly, tolerating and even subtly encouraging consolidation in communications, his FCC finally got to rule on a merger. And guess what? It blocked the deal! Granted, Echostar buying DirecTV was a move from two satellite competitors to one. But in this market, and with satellite competing against cable, there were plenty of arguments for letting the deal through.
I haven’t looked at the record enough to have a strong view about whether the FCC did the right thing. Powell used to be chief of staff in the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, so when it comes to the law in this area, he knows his stuff. It will be interesting to see whether the media revises its view of Powell after this decision. The image of him as being wildly pro-consolidation was always wrong, but it wasn’t tested before now.
Of course, the more important question is where Powell, and the communications industry, goes from here.