At back-to-back congressional hearings, executives of AT&T and DirecTV addressed concerns raised by lawmakers and various industry witnesses on the benefits of their companies’ proposed $48.5 billion, union which they touted as a combination of complimentary broadband, voice and video service assets that will position the merged entity to compete more effectively against the nation’s top multichannel program video distributors (MVPDs). On Tuesday morning, AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson appeared alongside DirecTV CEO Michael White at a House Judiciary regulatory reform subcommittee hearing that was followed by an afternoon hearing conducted by the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee. While lawmakers at both hearings appeared to be receptive to the merger plan, certain members of the Senate panel voiced reservations about the impact of the transaction on consumer prices and on multichannel video competition in markets where AT&T offers its “U-Verse” IPTV service. John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge who testified at the House hearing, also questioned AT&T’s commitments to expand broadband service in exchange for merger approval, citing what he characterized as unfulfilled promises on broadband deployment that AT&T made in connection with its 2006 acquisition of BellSouth. Denying Bergmayer’s claims, Stephenson advised lawmakers that the pledges made by AT&T in 2006 correspond with FCC broadband speed benchmarks that were in place at that time and that it has since been raised by the agency. Meanwhile, at the Senate hearing, subcommittee chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) questioned the impact of the merger on markets such as Dallas and Atlanta where AT&T already provides U-Verse video service and where the companies’ combined share of the MVPD market is expected to exceed 40%. Stephenson replied that, even in such markets, AT&T and DirecTV are not direct competitors because AT&T’s video service “is not profitable” and “we don’t actively market stand-alone video because we don’t make any money off of it.” Stephenson further declared that AT&T would “absolutely and unequivocally” commit to offer a stand-alone broadband product because AT&T considers itself “a broadband company.” Spotlighting the importance of broadband in his company’s decision to merge with AT&T, White acknowledged that growth at DirecTV has slowed in recent years because it has been unable to offer a viable broadband product alongside its satellite TV service. Explaining that, “bundles have largely replaced pure video” and “video itself has combined with the Internet to satisfy customers’ demands for more video on demand,” White observed: “our competitors’ advertising highlights our lack of an Internet offering.”