The United States Federal Communications Commission has unveiled the teams that will review two proposed multibillion merger deals that have drawn immense criticism.
The two merger deals in question are the $45 billion merger of cable companies Comcast and Time Warner Cable and the $49 billion merger of wireless providers AT&T and DirecTV.
The mergers have been questioned due to concerns that each merger will lead to monopolies in their respective industries, along with growing fears on industry consolidation.
The proposed deals will undergo review from two separate teams, with both teams reporting to one steering committee.
The steering committee will be chaired by Jonathan Sallet, FCC General Counsel and will include Media Bureau chief William Lake, International Bureau chief Midel de la Torre, Wireline Competition chief Julie Veach, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau chief Roger Sherman.
The group reviewing the Comcast-Time Warner merger will be led by former Department of Justice antitrust lawyer Hillary Burchuck. Included in Burchuck's team is Bill Dever of the Wireline Competition Bureau.
The group reviewing the AT&T-DirecTV merger will be led by likewise a former Department of Justice antitrust lawyer Jamilla Ferris, who has been hired by the agency to lead the team. Included in Ferris's team is Elizabeth Andrion of the Office of Strategy Planning & Policy Analysis of the FCC.
William Rogerson, a former chief economist of the FCC and a professor at Northwestern University, will be the senior economist for the two merger deal review teams, while Shane Greenstein, also a professor at Northwestern University, will be the senior economic consultant.
The announcement of Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable was made in February this year. The merger of the two biggest United States cable companies will be Comcast's next biggest deal ever made after it purchased NBC Universal from GE in 2011. If the deal pushes through, Comcast will remain as the undisputed top company in the cable industry.
The announcement on the AT&T's proposed acquisition of DirecTV was made more recently, in June this year. The merger between the telecommunications company and the satellite television provider has been opposed because the subsequent reduction in competition may result in an increase in the prices for the offered services of the two companies. AT&T responded to this concern by saying that the new entity formed by the merger will be able to offer lower rates to users through bundling broadband and video services.
The companies involved in the mergers have the task of convincing the regulatory bodies that the deals are in the public interest. The deals can be blocked by the Department of Justice if they would be found in violation of antitrust laws.