WASHINGTON, DC – Consumer Watchdog today called on the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission to reject the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner because the deal “violates antitrust laws and is not in the public interest.”
“The consolidation of the largest cable television providers would create a media juggernaut that would stifle completion and hurt consumers who would ultimately pay higher prices for even worse service,” wrote John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director in separate letters to the Justice Department and the FCC.
Justice is charged with reviewing the deal to consider its antitrust implications, while the FCC must determine whether it is the public interest.
Read the letter to Justice here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltragcomcast032414.pdf
Read the letter to the FCC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrfcc032414.pdf
“The companies may try to argue that they don’t directly compete in any cities. That is not the issue. Rather the concern is the share of the national cable TV market the behemoth would control, which would be substantial,” Simpson wrote to Justice. “In most of the markets they serve, Comcast and Time Warner are the primary providers of broadband Internet access. Because in each of these markets the companies are effectively local monopolies, they are able to charge more for slower broadband service than is the case in other developed nations.”
In the letter to the FCC Simpson highlighted Consumer Watchdog’s concern about Comcast’s potential for abuse since it has become a content provider with its acquisition of NBCUniversal. He wrote:
“By controlling the means of distribution via cable TV or the Internet, Comcast will be able to unfairly promote its content over the content of other providers, limiting choice for consumers. With its recent deal with Netflix, there are already troubling signs that Comcast using its power unfairly to hurt content providers and limit consumers’ choice on the Internet.”
The letter to the Justice Department concluded:
“Consumer Watchdog was pleased to learn that several state attorneys general have joined the U.S. Department of Justice in its investigation of the Comcast - Time Warner deal. We call on you to block the deal for the reasons outlined above. A final demonstration that the deal is not about improving service for consumers, is the outrageous $80 million “golden parachute” Time Warner CEO Robert D. Marcus will receive if the deal is completed. The deal is about lining the pockets of shareholders and executives. It violates antitrust laws and is not in the public interest.”
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