What's Next for DIRECTV?

Earlier this week, the folks at DIRECTV and Liberty Media broke out the champagne when regulators approved the takeover of the satellite TV giant by John Malone's company.

And for a few hours, the staff at SkyREPORT searched out the nearest bomb shelter and went into hiding after three breaking news pieces (the first announcing the deal, the second retracting the first breaking news piece, and the third saying that -yep - the DIRECTV/Liberty transaction is a done deal) slipped through the fingers of editors. Big ticket items of this type don't surface every day, and one editor in particular (any guesses?) was a bit antsy about spreading the news.

Although the lengthy process of Liberty taking a controlling stake in DIRECTV has come to an end, there will be more strategic maneuverings for the DBS platform. Consider these points:

*Will Liberty take over all of DIRECTV? Why not have your cake and eat it too?

*Could DIRECTV and DISH Network eventually merge? The wild card for this suggestion is Charlie Ergen, who would probably want a direct, leading role in any combined DBS effort. And, of course, a DIRECTV/DISH merger may run afoul with regulators, and that must be on the minds of company leaders. But the pieces may be in place for a deal. There's the DISH spin-off, which could create a smooth path for a DBS combination. Former Liberty executives are on the DISH board. And Liberty Media and DISH are essentially next-door neighbors in south suburban Denver.

*Will DIRECTV spin off Latin American assets? Whether or not this happens, one thing is certain: DIRECTV Latin America has become a valuable asset for the satellite TV company.

*And what about a broadband component? While the DBS companies like their position in the video distribution business, some are asking if they will need a solid broadband product in order to keep customers. Last year, DIRECTV reached a wholesale distribution agreement to offer its customers Current high-speed internet and VoIP services, delivered via broadband over powerline (BPL) technology. The company also has a sales relationship with WildBlue. Will the company really begin to utilize these broadband relationships and others?