Public interest groups press FCC to hold public hearings on AT&T/T-Mobile deal

A coalition of public interest groups opposed to AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA asked the FCC to hold a series of hearings across the country to "hear from the people who could be most affected by the merger." The request is the latest bit of pressure being put on the transaction.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Consumers Union, Public Knowledge and others argued the merger is a "matter of great public concern" and that the FCC should hold the hearings before September to solicit more comment from the public and engage with consumers. "If approved, the merger would have serious repercussions around the country," according to the letter. "The commission should not consider this merger without seeking direct input from those most impacted."

Free Press, Media Access Project, Future of Music Coalition, National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Open Technology Initiative of the New America Foundation also signed the letter. An FCC spokesman declined to comment.

Public field hearings for mergers and acquisitions are rare. The FCC conducted such a forum last year in Chicago to discuss the Comcast-NBC Universal deal.

Both the FCC and Department of Justice are reviewing the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, and the review is expected to stretch into early next year. AT&T sent a statement out to news outlets saying that "the FCC has received extensive public comment on this transaction as well as more than a million pages of documents. And while the formal pleading cycle is closed, interested members of the public continue to make their views known in filings at the FCC."

For more:
- see this letter (PDF)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Hill article

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