Cable pioneer and billionaire media investor John Malone could soon be back in the business of delivering TV signals to U.S. consumers—this time via satellite. Malone, who helped usher in the cable-TV era and now runs Liberty Media (LCAPA), is haggling with regulators to win approval for Liberty's late 2006 acquisition of a controlling stake in the biggest U.S. satellite operator, DirecTV Group (DTV).
Malone, in an exclusive interview with BusinessWeek, says he expects the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Dept. to approve the deal soon. He's crafting a vision for using DirecTV to take on the cable-TV industry, using partnerships with telecom carriers and possibly an alliance with EchoStar (SATS), the No. 2 satellite-TV provider. Once regulators sign off, DirecTV can "take on cable television as their strongest U.S. competitor," Malone says.