September 12, 2014 / 3:39 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-DirecTV CEO sees AT&T merger closing by April 2015

(Adds CEO quote)

NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Satellite television service DirecTV expects its merger with wireless operator AT&T Inc to be completed next April, Chief Executive Mike White told investors at a conference on Friday.

AT&T’s $48.5 billion bid for DirecTV, announced in May, is being reviewed by U.S. regulators.

“We are optimistic that we will be able to get this deal closed in the first half of next year,” said White. “My best guess right now is early April.”

The takeover by AT&T hinges on the completion of a deal with the National Football League for rights to the popular Sunday Ticket package, which gives subscribers access to live Sunday games on multimedia platforms, including iPads and game consoles.

White said he expected that agreement to be reached by the end of the year. “We have made good progress on the (NFL) deal,” he said.

The merger with AT&T will allow the combined company to explore opportunities in Latin America it would not have otherwise pursued, White said.

“I wouldn’t look at acquiring wireless as a stand-alone company in Latin America just from a risk perspective. That is just not our core competency,” he said. “But with AT&T and DirecTV together, I think we are going to have enormous opportunities.”

He said he expected the cost of content to rise by double digits next year.

“Retransmission fees are growing at an enormous rate this year for us,” White said. (Reporting by Marina Lopes; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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