Falco Rips Comcast/TWC Combo In Earnings Call

Univision president and CEO Randy Falco took aim at the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger and what he said could be its adverse impact on the Hispanic market—Comcast/NBCU owns Univision competitor Telemundo.

In an earnings call Monday, Falco echoed his call for "greater scrutiny" of the deal.

"Based on what I have seen and heard, I am still concerned that the proposed merger could be bad for competition and most importantly, bad for Hispanic audiences," he said.

He said Comcast was more vertically integrated than Google or Facebook.

"You've already heard that the new Comcast will be the dominant cable and high-speed broadband provider in markets with 30% of all U.S. cable households. What you may not know is that the new Comcast will serve markets with 91% of all Hispanic households and be the top TV distributor in 19 out of the top 20 Hispanic markets. That gives this new Company staggering influence over Hispanic consumers."

He said the merger's risks were not hypotheticals for programming competitors like his company. And Falco knows something about making NBC programming competitive as the former president and chief operating officer of NBCUniversal Television Group, one of a number of top posts in his 20-plus-year career at NBC.

"I already told you our sports network [Deportes Univision] is number one, and this is even without distribution in Comcast systems," he said. "All of the top distributors have embraced this network and are distributing it—even Time Warner Cable. That's all except Comcast. Hispanic audiences are also embracing this network as you can see from the ratings. So either Comcast doesn't understand that soccer is a passion point for Hispanics or they don’t support competitors who have competing services."

"My fear is that the latter is the case and this type of anti-competitive conduct would continue."

"Comcast has had an extraordinary, long-standing commitment to Hispanic programming and through the transaction with Time Warner Cable, we are committed to bringing high-quality Hispanic content to millions of additional Americans," said John Demming, executive director, corporate and financial communications, for Comcast. "We have a proven track record with Hispanic customers offering the greatest programming choices in linear, digital, and on-demand platforms. New independent networks (El Rey and Baby First Americas), the Xfinity Latino Entertainment Channel – the first of its kind interactive channel, and the celebrated Xfinity Freeview Latino event, are a few examples to demonstrate how Hispanic inclusion extends beyond our robust procurement, workforce, and community investment practices.

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.