Dish Plays National Security Card to Try to Trump Sprint-SoftBank Deal
NEWS ANALYSIS: Dish Network newspaper and Internet ads raise questions about security in an attempt to scuttle a Sprint–SoftBank merger even as the companies agree to government restrictions.The imagery couldn't be more blatant in the full-page ad that Dish Networks is running in The Washington Post. In the ad, a picture of container cranes at a seaport is positioned above the image of an Ethernet router, with the port marked "Internet" pointedly left empty. The ad says that the security of the United States should never be left in the hands of a foreign company and equates the failed bid by a company in Kuwait to buy U.S. port operations companies to the Sprint–SoftBank merger. While full-page public policy ads are nothing new in newspapers in Washington, the intensity of the last-ditch effort by Dish to block a U.S. telecommunications merger is something different. In addition to the ads, Dish has been waging a public relations war against SoftBank issuing statements raising alarm at a recently reported agreement by Sprint and SoftBank to allow U.S. government approval of one of the surviving corporation's board members. Dish also downplayed foreign ownership of T-Mobile, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom and Verizon Wireless, which is almost half owned by Vodafone.
But the Dish press releases and ads ignore the history of the transaction, the historic postwar relationship between Japan and the U.S., as well as the law concerning foreign ownership. One source at Sprint pointed out that because Japan is a strategic U.S. ally and a signatory of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as is the U.S., that foreign investment in U.S. companies is presumed to be in the best interests of the U.S.