Dish on national security PR offensive against SoftBank

Wed May 22, 2013 7:29pm EDT
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By Alina Selyukh and Liana B. Baker

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dish Network Corp is ramping up its Washington-centric campaign to thwart Japanese firm SoftBank Corp's bid for Sprint Nextel Corp, hoping to convince lawmakers and government reviewers that it poses national security risks.

On Wednesday, Dish ads appeared in Washington publications the Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, Roll Call and the National Journal as well as online news sites, including

A full-page color ad on the Post's A5 page compared SoftBank's proposed acquisition of Sprint to the 2006 Dubai Ports World controversy, when a political storm over national security unraveled a deal to buy several U.S. ports even after it was approved by federal national security reviewers.

"In an ever advancing world, 'ports' may change," Dish said in the ad, "but keeping them in American hands never should. Don't outsource our national security."

Multiple federal agencies, including an entity entirely focused on national security, are currently reviewing the national security and market implications of the $20.1 billion bid the Japanese mobile operator made last October for a 70 percent stake in the third-largest U.S. wireless operator.

Dish countered with its own $25.5 billion offer to Sprint in April and quickly launched into a public relations offensive to undermine SoftBank's standing with federal regulators, lawmakers and the public at large.

Dish's lawyers have left no stone in Washington unturned.

The Federal Communications Commission, which is one of the agencies reviewing the deal, has received scores of letters painting SoftBank as a risky foreign acquirer. Dish also briefed the staff of some members of the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee, and asked the office of Virginia Republican Morgan Griffith to pose a question about it at Tuesday's hearing on U.S. cybersecurity.   Continued...

The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking