Several opponents of Comcast’s proposal to buy Time Warner Cable, including some smaller cable operators, have banded together, calling themselves the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition.
The coalition said U.S. Federal agencies should reject the proposed merger on several grounds: it threatens competition, would be harmful to consumers, and runs counter to antitrust and communications laws.
Furthermore, members of the coalition agree, there are no conditions the regulatory agencies involved can set on the merger that will avoid the substantial harms they say will be caused by the merger.
Because Comcast would end up controlling fully half of the high-speed broadband market, Comcast would have the power and the incentive to increase their prices at the expense of consumers, content creators and innovation.
Comcast would become the nation’s most dominant pay TV provider, while also owning NBC-Universal. Comcast would have the means and the incentive to advance its own content at the expense of other programmers and to force consumers to pay more for content not controlled under its control, the group charges.
Comcast’s X1 Platform would become the default streaming system for the vast majority of broadband subscribers, affording Mega Comcast extraordinary power over the content available to broadband consumers and forcing competing devices to submit to Comcast’s terms in order to gain entry to the marketplace. This would result in fewer choices for consumers and less motivation for companies to invest in new and innovative technologies, according to the coalition.
Comcast would control nearly three-quarters of the local cable advertising market. Local cable ads are critical for local businesses, particularly small businesses, to reach their customers. Local cable advertising is also a critical component of business for cable companies, the group argues. Confronted with Mega Comcast’s control over 71 percent of the market, small business marketers and cable companies will have no choice but to pay Comcast’s rates, raising small business costs and increasing prices for consumers.
Comcast would reach more than 91 percent of Latino households and control programming in 19 of the top 20 Latino media markets. That means virtually the entire Latino community could find itself with far fewer programming choices, lower quality programming and fewer opportunities for Latinos in the creative content industries, the coalition charged.
“Put simply, Mega Comcast would be disastrous for consumers,” continued Kimmelman. “Already known for its terrible customer service, if allowed to go through with the merger, Mega Comcast would deliver increased consumer frustration and hamper technological innovation. Allowing a single company to dominate 50% of our nation’s broadband wires is not only a recipe for disaster, but it also runs counter to our antitrust and communications laws. The FCC and DOJ should unequivocally reject this merger.”
Other Coalition members include:
- Hargray Communications
- NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association
- FairPoint Communications
- Consumer Federation of America
- Greenlining Institute
- Parents Television Council
- Sports Fan Coalition
- WeatherNation TV
- Writers Guild of America, West
- Consumer Action
- Future of Music Coalition
Filed Under: Industry regulations, Cables + cable management