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US: Delrahim told Dish to Enlist senators in T-Mobile deal

 |  December 18, 2019

The Justice Department’s (DOJ) antitrust chief urged the chairman of pay TV provider Dish Network.to enlist US senators to help win another regulator’s approval for the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile US, reported Bloomberg. 

Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, texted Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen on June 10 and suggested he ask senators to contact Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to evidence presented Wednesday, December 18, at the trial of a lawsuit filed by a dozen states seeking to block the merger.

“Today would be a good day to have your Senator friends contact the chairman,” Delrahim wrote in the text.

After the DOJ approved the deal in July, the FCC approved it in October, in part because T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to sell some assets that Dish would use to create a new wireless phone company. Some Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern that the approval process wasn’t transparent and that the FCC had altered an antitrust analysis to downplay competitive harms from the merger.

According to other text messages submitted as evidence at the trial in New York, Ergen confirmed to Delrahim that he had made the calls to lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican.

Under questioning by a lawyer for the states, Ergen said Wednesday he discussed the merger with McConnell but didn’t ask him to contact Pai. Ergen said he asked Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner to call Pai.

Evidence presented by the states also showed that Delrahim texted his personal email address to Ergen after they began discussing the merger.

During testimony on Tuesday, Ergen said Dish is ready to compete with the biggest US wireless carriers “from day one” after the merger.

Full Content: Bloomberg

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