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Hinchey: Block That Deal!

As if Comcast and NBCU executives didn't have enough with getting roughed up by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in a Senate Antitrust Subcommittee hearing vetting their proposed merger, at about the same time a sextet of Dems led by Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) was firing off a letter to the Attorney General and FCC Chairman calling on them to block the deal entirely.

According to a copy of the letter, they said that the deal would be more consolidation, less choice, and higher cable bills, the last a point hammered on in the Senate hearing.

"This merger would further limit the American people's access to a wide array of information and broadcast content that is inherently necessity for a properly functioning democracy," said Hinchey in announcing the letter. "The Comcast-NBC Universal deal must be blocked for the good of the American people."

Also signing onto the letter were Donna Edwards (D-MD), John Olver (D-MA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY).

Despite the loud criticism, at least one of its loudest critics, the American Cable Association, thinks the deal will likely go through. The more likely battleground is not an up or down vote by either FCC or Justice, but what conditions will be applied in addition to the ones Comcast has voluntarily agreed to.

The company added a new one Thursday, saying it would adhere to program access rules as a condition of the deal even if those rules were thrown out by the courts. Comcast has challenged the FCC conclusion that such rules are still needed, citing the rise in competition the rules were intended to foster.