PK Files Petition to Deny on Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger

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Today, Public Knowledge and the Open Technology Institute filed a Petition to Deny asking the Federal Communications Commission to stop the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

In the Petition to Deny, they demonstrate that the FCC typically analyzes large broadband and cable mergers through the lens of distribution. If it buys Time Warner Cable, Comcast would have about a 50 percent share in the market for truly high-speed residential broadband distribution. This would make Comcast the most dominant communications company in the United States since the breakup of the Bell System. Under its public interest standard, the FCC cannot permit a single company to have such control over the marketplace.

The following statement can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:

“The diverse voices that have raised an alarm at the FCC about this merger show that Comcast’s spin is not working. Buying Time Warner Cable would allow Comcast to put its interests above those of creators, TV viewers, Internet users, and competition.

Consumers are harmed when a single company can use its power as a distributor to control what content and programming people can access nationwide. Such ‘gatekeeper’ power would allow Comcast to raise costs for rivals, keep programming from being available on new online platforms, interfere with the open Internet, control the market for streaming video devices, and charge Internet companies for access to its massive customer base. This merger could have other side-effects as well--such as decreased consumer privacy, worse customer service, and slower broadband deployment.

The FCC needs to stop this merger. The tough questions the FCC has already put to Comcast show that the agency is skeptical that this merger serves the public interest.  It’s learned from experience that grab-bags of ‘conditions’ are rarely effective. Blocking this merger by itself will not be enough to create a truly competitive, pro-consumer, and open broadband and video marketplace. But unless it stops this merger the FCC’s other efforts, such as to protect the Open Internet and promote video competition, may be in vain.”

The Petition to Deny can be downloaded here.

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