LITTLETON, Colo. - EchoStar Communications Corp. urged federal regulators on Tuesday to reject a bid by Rupert Murdoch to merge his News Corp. with U.S. satellite giant DirecTV.

In a brief filed with the Federal Communications Commission, EchoStar contends the proposed $6.6 billion deal would reduce consumer choices and lead to higher programming fees. EchoStar also says News Corp.'s home market of Australia doesn't allow U.S. satellite businesses to compete there.

Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar tried to buy rival Hughes Electronics, which owns DirecTV, for $18.8 billion in 2001. Federal regulators late last year blocked the proposed merger because they felt it would harm competition.

News Corp. struck a deal in April to acquire 34 percent of Hughes Electronics Corp., the California-based division of General Motors that operates DirecTV. The deal is being explored by federal regulators.

News Corp. also owns BSkyB, the pay-TV satellite broadcaster, and the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

Murdoch claims the merger will increase competition in the cable markets and provide better service for U.S. viewers.

The 70-page brief was filed during the public comment period on the proposed merger.

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