Thu, Oct. 1, 4:58 PM
- While Dish Network and Tegna sort out their differences, Media General (NYSE:MEG) and DirecTV (NYSE:T) have come to a last-minute retransmission deal.
- The pact avoids a blackout on the service of as many as 71 Media General stations in 48 local markets.
- Media General had pointed viewers at risk of losing programming toward U-verse, AT&T's other television service -- but one that seems to be getting de-emphasized as AT&T works to integrate DirecTV.
- Previously: AT&T facing blackout talks with Tribune, Media General (Sep. 24 2015)
Wed, Sep. 30, 5:15 PM
- Sprint (S +2.7%) is going to kick up the cost of its unlimited data plan, formerly $60/month, to $70/month, showing that unlimited data plans may be testing sustainability at the wireless carriers.
- That's still the best U.S. postpaid deal for that plan, and current customers will be grandfathered in at the $60/month rate. The price changes for new customers Oct. 16.
- T-Mobile (TMUS +0.6%) sells an unlimited data plan for $80/month, and AT&T (T +1.5%) and Verizon (VZ -0.1%) don't offer one.
- Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has alluded to the strain of unlimited data, as well as wishes to bump customers toward the tiered data plans.
- Earlier, Sprint pursued limiting video download speeds, but has removed such restrictions as customers pushed back.
Tue, Sep. 29, 5:02 PM
- As prep for its analyst conference tomorrow, AT&T (NYSE:T) has filed an 8-K updating Q3 guidance -- expecting capital spending to increase sequentially, and for free cash flow to exceed $4.5B.
- It's reaffirming all other full-year guidance, including double-digit revenue growth and "continued consolidated margin expansion" even with foreign-exchange pressures.
- AT&T expects more than 2M net adds in wireless, with gains across postpaid, prepaid, connected devices and reseller, and positive branded voice net adds.
- DirecTV integration is going well early, and it expects positive net adds in that operation and positive IP broadband net adds, though U-verse subs are expected to decline as it focuses elsewhere.
- AT&T will announce Q3 results on Oct. 22.
Tue, Sep. 29, 1:51 PM
- With a plummeting currency bedeviling Venezuela, AT&T (T +0.2%) is considering a $1.1B charge tied to DirecTV's assets in the country.
- The assets are valued at $1.1B based on an exchange rate of 12 bolivars/dollar. If AT&T values the assets at the devalued "Simadi" exchange rate -- 200 bolivars/dollar -- it would effectively wipe out most of the dollar value, creating a "negative impact on reported revenues, operating income and the fair value of our investment in the Venezuelan subsidiary."
- AT&T has maintained that the primary value of its DirecTV deal is in the U.S. business. In Q1, the Venezuela operation generated $200M in revenue and OIBDA of $75M, but the Simadi rate would have meant an operating loss.
Fri, Sep. 25, 2:01 PM
Thu, Sep. 24, 6:05 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) is getting close to a couple of programming blackouts, with no carriage deals on a couple of deadlines looming at the end of the month.
- Tribune Media (NYSE:TRCO) and its flagship WGN may go dark on U-verse Oct. 1, the company is warning viewers.
- Meanwhile, Media General (NYSE:MEG), which operates 71 stations in 48 local markets, is in a dispute with AT&T's DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) that could black out stations Oct. 1. Interestingly, in pointing viewers away from DirecTV, Media General recommends U-verse as one alternative.
- As always, negotiations are under wraps, but DirecTV homes in on a requested increase, saying that "Media General is threatening to block your station’s signal unless they receive more than double the current fees."
- After hours: T -0.2%; TRCO -0.8%.
Tue, Sep. 22, 7:24 PM
- With most observers thinking any theoretical merger between T-Mobile (TMUS -1.1%) and Sprint (S +0.3%) would have to wait until a new U.S. administration (and John Legere saying "Oh yeah ... the only possible coming together of Sprint and T-Mobile is if we pick them up off the sidewalk"), analysts at Evercore say the two could combine network assets.
- It would be a sort of a merger, into a new company (a REIT in particular) that would hold their network resources. Bigger investments at lower cost would come, along with a speedier network once spectrum assets were blended.
- Given up, of course, would be the chance to differentiate, and snipe the rival over network power.
- Combined, the two control 255 MHz of spectrum, more than the 147 MHz at AT&T (T -0.9%) or the 116 MHz of Verizon (VZ -0.9%). A new "NetCo" would rent the network back to the two, as well as possibly others, and support MVNO customers.
- As a final entry in the "pro" column, the analysts note a combined network would make any future merger more headache-free.
Tue, Sep. 22, 12:46 PM
- Traffic checks of U.S. wireless carriers by Pacific Crest's Michael Bowen show slowness for the leaders and some momentum for challengers.
- Verizon (VZ -1%) was "slow" and AT&T (T -0.9%) "somewhat weak" in the past month heading into a key iPhone announcement. Verizon saw a lower amount of pre-orders for the iPhone and was coming off a data plan re-sizing; AT&T is lower-key about pushing phone upgrades, though tablet promotions are going well and customers are responding to DirecTV bundles.
- Meanwhile, promotions are bearing fruit at T-Mobile (TMUS -1.9%) and Sprint (S -1%). T-Mobile traffic was "strong," Bowen says, with employees optimistic about iPhone pre-orders and new financing plans. Meanwhile, most Sprint stores met or beat August goals and expect the same for September, as the "iPhone forever" leasing plan is showing strong demand.
Mon, Sep. 21, 3:36 PM
- Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI +0.6%), the nation's biggest local broadcaster, has held talks to acquire the Tennis Channel, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- Sinclair has engaged in multiple rounds of talks with the various private-equity owners of the network, which include Apollo Global Management and Bain Capital Ventures. DirecTV (NYSE:T) and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) also have small stakes.
- The ownership is seeking a healthy premium, asking $500M or more for the Tennis Channel.
- It would be a bid for more content by Sinclair, which is dependent on the big four broadcasters for much of what it puts on TV.
Sun, Sep. 20, 11:03 AM
- HP (NYSE:HPQ) recently announced that it would cut around 30K jobs, but despite its size, the corporate layoffs are not the largest of the recent past.
- According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the following list can claim that distinction.
- IBM (NYSE:IBM) layoffs: 60K - July 1993
- Citigroup (NYSE:C) layoffs: 50K - November 2008
- Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) layoffs: 50K - January 1993
- General Motors (NYSE:GM) layoffs: 47K - February 2009
- AT&T (NYSE:T) layoffs: 40K - January 1996
- Ford (NYSE:F) layoffs: 35K - January 2002
- Kmart (SHLD) layoffs: 35K - January 2003
- Circuit City layoffs: 34K - January 2009
- Boeing (NYSE:BA) layoffs: 31K -September 2001
- Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) layoffs: 30K - September 2011
Wed, Sep. 16, 4:06 PM
- In a key move for its future, AT&T (NYSE:T) has named Enrique Rodriguez -- recently of Sirius XM -- as its chief technical officer for the Entertainment and Internet business.
- Rodriguez has oversight of both U-verse and DirecTV, and any combination of or successor to those services. Former DirecTV CTO Romulo Pontual left the company after the merger was completed.
- Rodriguez was most recently an executive VP for productions, operations and connected vehicles at Sirius XM, and has executive experience at both Cisco and Microsoft.
- Ericsson is working with AT&T on bringing the U-verse and DirecTV services, but there are few details yet about how it will go about it.
- Previously: AT&T: We're well positioned to handle TV-industry challenges (Sep. 16 2015)
Wed, Sep. 16, 3:33 PM
- More squabbles among wireless carriers as T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), along with the rural service-focused Competitive Carriers Association, are pressing to prevent AT&T's (NYSE:T) purchase of valuable lower 700 MHz spectrum.
- The deal concerns a purchase of license from Club 42 CM L.P. As often, it's an it said/it said situation. T-Mobile says AT&T hasn't demonstrated the deal is in the public interest and just wants to hoard low-frequency spectrum, while AT&T says T-Mobile has no good reason to oppose the deal other than to stop it from gathering the spectrum.
- AT&T says the spectrum isn't being used and the FCC has agreed with the logic behind the purchase. CCA and T-Mobile have opposed the deal, writes AT&T's Joan Marsh, "arguing that the Commission should simply prohibit any incremental low-band spectrum aggregation by AT&T and Verizon. Period. They essentially assert that low band spectrum transactions should be deemed presumptively unlawful for any company named AT&T or Verizon."
- "AT&T simply wants to grab more low-band spectrum to depress competition, reduce investment and stifle innovation," T-Mobile's Kathleen Ham told FierceWireless.
- The FCC has said that transactions resulting in a carrier controlling one-third of spectrum below 1 GHz in any given market would be subject to enhanced review.
Wed, Sep. 16, 1:04 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) says it's ready to handle pay TV challenges due to its newfound video flexibility: satellite, broadband or wireless, the belief is that the company is well positioned to address consumer shifts and over-the-top services.
- Speaking at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia conference, CFO John Stephens preferred to focus not on declining pay subscribers but on increasing viewing hours: "We have the ability to deliver services over multiple platforms. A lot of the industry will just be able to do it over broadband or over wireless. We can do it all. That's a different position."
- Size matters too; with its acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), it's become the biggest pay-TV service provider in the world, which offers leverage in content negotiations.
- Signals are pointing toward an approach where the company pushes bundled U-verse broadband with DirecTV for television. Ericsson is working on integrating the U-verse and DirecTV television systems for AT&T, but in the meantime, some customers may migrate to lower-cost offerings on DirecTV. And AT&T is keeping DirecTV's Genie set-top hardware around.
Tue, Sep. 15, 4:49 PM
- AT&T (T +0.9%) and Verizon (VZ +1.6%) have both said they're amping up their footprint in Best Buy stores, meaning more products and more service.
- Verizon's begun its expansion already, and plans to have 100 locations done by month's end. The areas are "geared to showcase connected lifestyles – such as wearable tech, computing on the go and connected home – and the devices and plans that make these lifestyles a reality," said Verizon's John Colaiuti.
- Both companies plan to have expanded their new approaches to all 250 stores by the end of 2015.
- Meanwhile, in a review of U.S. wireless firms, Morgan Stanley has reiterated its Overweight rating on Verizon, and an Equal Weight rating on AT&T.
Fri, Sep. 11, 8:15 PM
- Many NFL fans in Utah got a rude awakening tuning in for the Steelers-Patriots season opener Thursday night: If they were DirecTV (NYSE:T) subscribers, they were greeted with a black screen due to a carriage dispute.
- KSL-TV -- the wide-reaching NBC affiliate for the state -- has been off the air for about 200,000 DirecTV subscribers due to yet another contract dispute. The fight threatens Sunday night's Giants-Cowboys game as well.
- KSL GM Tanya Vea says the old contract ran out at the end of June but was subject to three extensions since.
Fri, Sep. 11, 2:09 PM
- In daily Sprint (S +1.4%) goings-on: First Sprint made an offer to steal DirecTV (NYSE:T) customers with a year's free service, then DirecTV refused to run ads about the offer to steal its customers; now Sprint is running ads about DirecTV's refusal to run ads about the offer.
- Sprint also updated its iPhone Forever plan to say new and existing customers can get the newest iPhones (6s and 6s Plus) under the same deal, which offers annual handset upgrades starting at $15/month (before handset insurance, until the next upgrade) if customers act by year's end.
- Meanwhile, much of Sprint investors' sentiment about the stock hangs on the focus that SoftBank's Masayoshi Son is bringing to fixing the carrier; it was reported earlier that he may have been occupied earlier this year with taking $65B SoftBank private in a massive management buyout. SoftBank has been making purchases of Sprint stock in an effort to lift its stake to 85% from the previous 80%.
- Previously: Bloomberg: SoftBank's Son looked at taking company private (Sep. 11 2015)
- Previously: Wells Fargo: T-Mobile, Sprint get edge with new iPhone financing approach (Sep. 10 2015)
AT&T Inc, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, provides wireless and wireline telecommunications services in the United States and internationally. The Company has three reportable segments: Wireless, Wireline, and Other.
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