The FCC's Charter-Time Warner Cable merger review docket has been flooded with filings asking it to block the merger in no uncertain terms.
The merger docket is by far the most active, with over 40,761 comments filed in the last 30 days (the special access proceeding is second at 3,688).
"Stop Charter before it hikes prices, broadens the digital divide and forms a cartel with Comcast to kill consumer choice and competition," said one apparently angry citizen. "Stop Charter before it hikes prices, broadens the digital divide and forms a cartel with Comcast to kill consumer choice and competition," said another, and another, and another, and another.
There are countless such form complaints—and at a minimum many hundreds posted in the past couple of days—which stem from a nomoremergers.com website that allows web surfers to submit it to the FCC with a click of a mouse (and a name, address, email and zip code). In fact, in a random check of 25 of the most recent comments (posted Feb. 18), all 25 were that same online petition. The site was showing a big spike in activity over the past two days.
The comments were pouring into the FCC at the same time that FCC staffers appear to be talking with the parties about possible conditions on the deal.
The groups behind the website want no deal, period, as the website name makes clear.
“It shouldn’t be surprising that advocacy organizations dedicated to opposing all mergers have been able to secure form letters from their online supporters, who also oppose all mergers," said Charter in a statement.
"Charter is a different kind of cable company. That’s why we offer faster broadband at a better value than our competitors, we are committed to an open Internet, and we don't have usage fees or data caps that penalize customers for using data intensive apps like streaming a lot of online video."
The FCC has made it clear that access to online content, and the speed and availability of that content, are key merger issues.
"Over the coming weeks, we will continue to work closely with state and federal regulators so that we can close our pending transactions and bring these benefits to more consumers," the company said.
The FCC's informal shot clock on vetting the deal runs out the last week of March and Charter execs are still hoping for a decision to at least be circulated by then.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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