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DirecTV Alludes to Over-the-Top Video Offering

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- DirecTV (DTV) CEO Michael White said the satellite TV giant will probably launch a targeted over-the-top video offering, which will be on a smaller scale than Netflix (NFLX) or Hulu.

White said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference on Wednesday that DirecTV is considering an over-the-top product, after the company was a bidder at Hulu's recently terminated auction.

"You will probably hear more from us when we are ready talk about it," White said of DirecTV's prospective OTT offering. He said that any offering would be more targeted than Netflix or Hulu, which are both in the process of filling out their platforms with increasing cable, movie and broadcast content, in addition to a rising number of original programs.

Those comments further the notion that DirecTV will look to adapt its satellite TV platform as the media industry evolves with new technologies. White was more tight-lipped about the prospects of a possible merger with Dish Network (DISH) to scale both firm's slow-growth platforms and potentially move into the wireless industry.

White said that while consolidation in the satellite and cable TV industries could drive a better balance of power among media distributors and creators that could drive overall consumer costs lower, the Department of Justice's strict enforcement of antitrust laws challenges the prospects of hypothetical mergers.

"I firmly believe some consolidation would be pro-consumer," White said. However, he said the current regulatory environment is a challenge to large-scale mergers. The DOJ blocked a merger between DirecTV and DISH Network about a decade ago.

Some speculate that DirecTV and DISH Network could alleviate the ire of antitrust regulators in a possible merger if they committed to deploying their wireless spectrum assets in a new offering for U.S. mobile consumers. White echoed such sentiment. However, he also called it a "pile of hypotheticals." He cited the uncertain economics of the wireless industry, in addition to the differences in DirecTV and Dish's spectrum assets as issues that could challenge a push into the wireless market.

On the capital planning front, White said DirecTV would continue to focus on share buybacks and not dividends. "You never say never," White said of a DirecTV dividend.

DirecTV shares were rising 11 cents to $60.75 in trading Wednesday.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York.

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