Clark Howard: Don’t fear AT&T-DirecTV deal

AT&T’s recently announced deal to buy DirecTV leaves places like metro Atlanta with one less independent pay TV provider. That usually doesn’t sound good for consumers.

But consumer advocate Clark Howard, who is heard locally on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB, tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that’s probably not the case this time. Here’s why he says so:

“More than anything it is irrelevant to consumers … This one doesn’t give me any heartburn. There is the outside chance that this merger can be good for consumers.”

“You’ve had two entities that have both been 98-pound weaklings in their own right … DirecTV had no future. The only thing they could offer is television, which is a declining business. AT&T has been a failure with television. They have only signed up 5 million people in all these years … They just have had no market strength.”

Howard said there’s a slim chance that the deal could be positive because there already are too few competitors here to give consumers much choice. But the combination of AT&T and DirecTV will create a more powerful rival for the area’s biggest cable TV player, he said.

“They are going to be in a position to go toe to toe with Comcast,” he said. “There’s an outside chance that this will actually be good for our wallets.”