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Free State: FCC Must Avoid Big is Bad Approach To Comcast/TWC

Seth Cooper, a senior adjunct fellow at the Free State Foundation, has some suggestions for how the FCC should, and should not, vet the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger if it is to conduct a consumer-focused and "principled" review and that includes not rejecting it on the "big is bad" theory.

In a new paper for the free market think tank, Cooper concedes it is possible that an economic examination of deal could produce anticompetitive concerns, but there needs to be "unmistakable" evidence.

The FCC's due diligence in that examination of the deal, Cooper says, must "disregard pleas for it to reject Comcast/TWC out of hand, based on appeals to emotional incredulity or 'big is bad' sloganeering; Stand firm against calls that, under the guise of protecting consumers, the agency impose conditions in order to protect market rivals...; reject dragging out its review process...; and avoid the imposition of any conditions on the merger unrelated to demonstrable concerns over market power and anticompetitive conduct."

Cooper takes no position on whether the FCC should approve the deal, but he clearly sees consumer benefits, pointing to accelerating the transition to digital cable, faster Internet speeds via DOCSIS 3.1, a more competitive business services market, and expanded wireless backhaul services, all points Comcast has made in arguing for the deal's public interest benefits.

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.