Rumors have swirled for years that Dish Network and DirecTV would merge. In the last couple of years, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has said multiple times on earnings calls that such a combination is “inevitable.”
Ergen said something similar again this week on Dish’s most recent earnings call, stating that with this year’s election about to pass, the timeline could be moved up for such a combination.
“One, I think politically, obviously, there’s three parties. I can’t speak for anybody else. I’ve always said I thought it was inevitable,” Ergen said on the call, in response to an analyst question.
“I haven’t changed my opinion on that. I do think the political environment when an election is going on, you don’t really want to—you’re hesitant to be a political football for somebody to complain about big companies or whatever in an election cycle, but that election cycle is over next week. And then you have a window where I think all companies are looking in M&A. You’re probably going to see some increased activity in that sense. And you’re not really in the political arena from an election point of view for another 15 months or so.”
Ergen went on to address the reasons why.
“So if there was a timing—the timing was right, it would be in the near term, not the longer term. There’s still material synergies or significant synergies. I won’t go into detail of what we believe those are but we believe that those are still material,” he said. “They’re not what they were five years ago or two years ago, but they’re still material. And certainly, in a declining industry, taking advantage of synergies is a rational strategy. So—and I think on the political side in terms of a legal objection to a merger, that’s been diminished by time, and obviously, the degradation of the Linear TV business and competition from dozens of companies in the OTT business and the proliferation of broadband today.”
In January, the New York Post reported that the two satellite companies were once again in talks to merge. The report said that Ergen “appears to be dragging his feet on finalizing a deal, demanding significant voting shares and a say in key decisions at the combined company despite his minority position.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.