FCC invites comments on AT&T-DirecTV deal

The Federal Communications Commission has begun accepting comments from the public on AT&T’s proposed $49 billion merger with DirecTV.

The public notice issued on Thursday begins the three-month period for public input on the deal, which the companies say is critical to stay competitive.

The first round of comments is due on Sept. 16. Responses to those are due Oct. 16, and then the final round of comments is due by Nov. 5.

Executives at the companies have said that they need to pool their resources to be able to offer the combination of TV, phone and Internet “bundles” that consumers want. Currently, DirecTV offers only satellite TV service and AT&T has argued that its small television offerings can’t compete with bigger competitors.

In paperwork filed to the FCC earlier this year, the company said that the deal would “unite two companies with uniquely complementary assets to create a strong, national competitor.”

The AT&T-DirecTV deal is the second major media merger of the year, coming months after Comcast announced its bid to buy Time Warner Cable.

That has led to concern from some public interest advocates and some Democrats, who have worried that the market is becoming dominated by a handful of major players.

On Capitol Hill, however, many lawmakers avoided delivering harsh criticism when executives made their case for the merger earlier this summer.