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How Would a DIRECTV-Dish Merger Affect You?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (June 24, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to

Q. I read your article last week that said Dish could still be interested in merging with DIRECTV, but what I want to know is how would this affect me, a Dish subscriber Would my bill go down? Would I get more channels? -- John, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

John, that's a great question and the type of question that we journalists have a tendency to overlook. And that is: How will a major business decision affect the average consumer? Journalists tend to write about the ins and outs of the deal but forget to communicate what it means specifically to the reader.

So let me get off my soap box now and explain what I think it would mean to you, a Dish subscriber, and DIRECTV's subscribers as well.

For starters, would it reduce your monthly bill? Probably not. The two companies, if merged as one, would still need to charge roughly the same amount for programming packages because the cost of acquiring programming would not change. If anything, it will continue to rise.

However, it's possible that a DIRECTV-Dish company would offer some less expensive programming packages for people who simply can't afford to pay more each month. The cheaper packages would not include much more than your local channels and some basic cable, but it would be an alternative for people trying to make ends meet. (Plus, if DIRECTV buys Hulu -- a real possibility -- the new company could offer Hulu as part of the 'low-cost' package, giving people more programming options.)

The low-cost package would also be a carrot for federal regulators who will require some concessions to approve the deal in the first place.

Second, I think a merger would allow the companies to eliminate some redundancies in labor, production, infrastructure and satellite development. In time, this would enable the DIRECTV-Dish company to offer more services, such as more HD channels, more Internet services and more innovative technology such as Dish's Sling Media products and DIRECTV's Genie HD DVR.

Bottom line: I'm not saying the merger would necessarily be good for the average consumer. After all, it would eliminate your right to choose between the two satellite providers. But it could create a company that would offer better service and more exciting features.

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