AT&T says DirecTV deal could slow price hikes

NEW YORK — AT&T’s CEO has told Congress that his company’s purchase of DirecTV will help slow increases in programming prices, but won’t lead to a decrease in prices.

CEO Randall Stephenson spoke to two Congressional committees Tuesday to defend AT&T’s $48.5 billion deal to buy the country’s largest satellite TV broadcaster.

Stephenson was pressed on the cost issue at a hearing of the Senate Commission of the Judiciary. He said pay-TV costs are rising because of programming costs driven by TV studios and sports networks, and said he couldn’t promise a decline in prices.

Public-interest groups say the deal will lead to less competition, since AT&T and DirecTV compete in providing pay-TV services to about 25 percent of the country.

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