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Rep. Raps Comcast-TWC Merger

WASHINGTON — Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) has created an online petition at Credomobilize seeking to block the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Pingree actually created the petition, signed by 88,914 people at press time, through her campaign, due to restrictions on petitions and grassroots activities by members of Congress, a spokesman said.

“It was technically the campaign, but it is still Chellie Pingree and it’s still how she feels,” communications director Willy Ritch said.

The petition, directed to Attorney General Eric Holder, outlines Pingree’s grievances, but sums them up this way: “A combined Comcast-Time Warner would be, quite simply, just too big, with too much power over subscribers, content providers and, quite frankly, too much influence in Washington.”

Pingree focuses on network neutrality, saying one of the biggest threats of the deal is to “a free and open Internet.” Actually, Comcast will be subject to the FCC’s antidiscrimination and anti-blocking rules into 2018, and it is widely thought that period would be extended if the FCC approves the TWC deal.

Should the deal go through, former TWC systems would also be subject to the rules through 2018 on a de facto basis.

Explaining the concern about net neutrality, the Pingree spokesman noted there are “lots of people who seem to be concerned that it is a threat to network neutrality.” He also cited Comcast’s peering arrangement with Netflix as “sort of proof” that the deal could “drive up the price of the network to competitors.”

And Pingree is not done. Ritch said she is planning on promoting the petition via her email list, and will also create a virtually identical petition though MoveOn.org.

If MoveOn decides that petition has legs, the policy advocacy group will promote it to its own list, as it does with any petition that it think has a lot of appeal, Ritch said.

TAKEAWAY

Rep. Chellie Pingree (DMaine) is circulating an online petition for opponents of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable combination.