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Today, Comcast announced a $65 billion bid to acquire international and entertainment programming assets from 21st Century Fox Inc.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Comcast is about to emerge from under a consent decree with the Department of Justice that followed from its purchase of NBCUniversal (unless the DOJ extends it, as we think it should). That consent decree followed a determination by the DOJ that without it, the deal would have violated the law and been anticompetitive. The decree places restrictions on Comcast’s ability to discriminate against rival video distributors and programmers.
“Without the protections of the consent decree, Comcast will already have the ability to harm its rivals, raising prices for consumers. The Fox assets would significantly increase its incentive and ability to do so. It goes beyond just pushing the envelope for Comcast to use this bid to try to extend its reach yet further. This deal raises such significant antitrust and regulatory concerns that it’s difficult to imagine it receiving more favorable enforcement treatment than the AT&T-Time Warner merger.
“Especially in light of the district court decision rejecting the government's attempt to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal, and in light of the rollback of net neutrality rules, further consolidation is the last thing consumers need. The public interest must take precedence over Comcast's ambition.”