CCIA Opposes Comcast/TWC

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) has come out against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

The association includes Microsoft, Facebook, Google, eBay, Dish, Sprint, T-Mobile and others, but CCIA's opposition was described as an "aggregate view" of its members, rather than attributable to any one of them. "It is often difficult for individual companies to voice their concerns in competition investigations for fear of harming current or prospective business relationships," said CCIA.

In the letter to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who had pressed them for their views, the groups said that "if regulators were to conclude that the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger does not have a chance of substantially lessening competition, then it is hard to imagine a real world merger that would." Franken, rather than CCIA, publicized the letter.

CCIA is concerned with access to last-mile broadband, saying the merger would lead to less competition and make competitive entry less likely. CCIA also argues a Comcast/TWC would be "better able to impede innovation that threatens to erode its legacy cable business model," meaning it could discriminate against online competitors to its traditional cable video model.

"As an organization that represents companies in many sectors of the Internet ecosystem, CCIA is concerned that this merger poses a significant threat to innovation and competition in many parts of the marketplace, including the layer that most users are familiar with: the websites, platforms and online services that the vast majority of Americans use every day," CCIA told Franken.

CCIA's conclusion was that the FCC and DOJ "should block this merger, not only for the good of innovation, the Internet industry, and of consumers; but also for the sanctity of antitrust law itself."

"Every market Comcast operates in is highly competitive, and we compete actively every day against some of CCIA's members,” said Sena Fitzmaurice, VP, government relations, for Comcast. “The size of this deal is not unprecedented – in fact, after the deal, Comcast will have the same market share as it had throughout most of the first decade of the 21st Century. It is particularly disappointing that the association has gotten their facts wrong about Comcast's share of the broadband market, which will actually only be about 20-40 percent  [the CCI letter says it would be nearly 50% of high-speed, last-mile” connections], much lower than its inaccurate figures claim.  We'll also be less than 30 percent of the video market - a level the federal appellate courts have twice said is not too concentrated. We look forward to the many benefits this deal will bring to the consumers that Comcast will continue to serve after these transactions, benefits that the association ignores in its letter."

John Eggerton

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.