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Dish Chairman: Comcast, Time Warner deal to cause 'seismic shift'

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen attends the Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco, California May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Rob
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen attends the Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco, California May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Rob

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dish Networks Inc Chairman Charlie Ergen said the proposed merger between Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc will cause a "seismic shift" in the media business and his company is considering how to respond.

Ergen said the transaction would concentrate broadband, video and content in a "nationwide player."

"That's going to send a seismic shift across our industry in ways that maybe we can't predict today," he said on Friday on a conference call after the satellite TV provider released quarterly earnings.

Dish is reviewing the deal's impact and will present options to its board, Ergen said.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, said on February 13 it had agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable in an all-stock deal for $45.2 billion. The proposal faces reviews from U.S. regulators who will study its effect on competition.

Comcast has argued the combination would not reduce competition because the two cable providers do not compete in any markets. The company pledged to divest 3 million subscribers, so the combined customer base of 30 million would represent just under 30 percent of the U.S. pay television video market.

Ergen said the deal, if approved, "certainly doesn't hurt the case for consolidation" of satellite TV providers. The U.S. government blocked a proposed merger of Dish and rival DirecTV in 2002.

"If you take the No. 1 and 4 providers and put them together, it would be hard to see why you couldn't put the No. 2 and 3 providers together," he said.

A Comcast spokesman had no comment on Ergen's remarks.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Andrew Hay and Richard Chang)

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