If the idea of Comcast buying out Time Warner Cable to become the largest cable company in America wasn't enough to make you worry about media consolidation, news tonight from the Wall Street Journal just might. Reportedly, AT&T has approached DirecTV to begin "possible acquisition" talks, a deal that the WSJ says could be worth over $40 billion. If it were to happen, it would give the combined company something on the order of 26 million TV subscribers, making it second only to the hypothetical Comcast/TWC combination of 30 million.
DirecTV could be looking to make a deal. The company was also recently rumored to be in talks with Dish about a merger as recently as last month. But working with AT&T might make more sense — the two companies already have an existing partnership in some areas.
It's entirely unclear how federal regulators would feel about a AT&T/DirecTV tie up, as we've yet to really see how Comcast's proposed merger will fare. In the event that both buyouts are approved, we'd have two massive companies with national footprints and dominant marketshare in the cable and satellite TV business, respectively. What the media landscape would look like in such a scenario is practically impossible to fathom, but we might hazard a few guesses.