By Julian Hattem - 09/25/14 05:10 PM EDT
DirecTV shareholders overwhelmingly voted to move forward with the company’s $48.5 billion sale to AT&T on Thursday.
The move amounts to a step forward for the merger, which still needs regulatory approval from the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission.
More than 99 percent of the votes cast were in support of the deal. Those votes represented 77 percent of all outstanding shares.
"We appreciate DirecTV shareholders' approval and look forward to continuing our work with the various regulatory agencies reviewing the deal to gain their approval as well,” an AT&T spokesman said in a statement to The Hill.
Along with Comcast’s planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, the AT&T-DirecTV merger is the second major media deal before federal regulators this year.
AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV has raised less opposition than the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, though some critics on the left have raised concerns that it represents a growing consolidation of major media companies.
The two media companies have said that their merger is a matter of marketplace necessity.
DirecTV offers TV service but not phone or Internet. AT&T offers phone and Internet service but its television offerings are too meager to compete with major competitors like Comcast, it has said.
Combining their forces will allow them to reduce redundancy and offer the “triple play” service — phone, TV and broadband Internet — their consumers have come to expect, they say.
DirecTV said that it hopes to finalize the deal in early 2015.
— Updated at 5:41 p.m.