Rockefeller, Markey Talk Comcast-TWC

Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) weighed in on the proposed Comcast-TWC merger Friday, or at least on the process of considering the deal, a deal they will undoubtedly be vetting in Hill hearings as the chair and a member, respectively, of the Senate Commerce Committee that has oversight over communications.

In fact, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a member of the committee as well as chair of its antitrust subcommittee, has already signaled she will be holding a hearing on the merger.

Rockefeller clearly had issues, while Markey was playing his cards closer to the vest.

"The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable raises serious questions that deserve thorough scrutiny," said Rockefeller. But the way he phrased the key question suggested where he might already fall on the answer. "[T]he threshold question must be whether the creation of an even larger video and broadband juggernaut results in greater choice and lower rates for consumers. This has not been my experience with previous mergers of this size. And at a time when the future of video is increasingly online, policymakers have to weigh very carefully the ability of big companies to leverage their control of the Internet to shape how Americans access and receive content and to limit new consumer-centric video services."

"This transaction should be evaluated through the lens of what is best for fostering competition, ensuring choice in broadband, cable and telephone, and protecting consumers in Massachusetts and across America," said Markey. "I look forward to Congressional hearings on this proposed deal and querying the companies about how it impacts consumers."

Another Senate Democrat, Al Franken (D-Minn.), has already signaled to federal regulators his concerns about the deal. In an interview on CNN this week, he said that the deal was going exactly in the wrong direction if the idea was to promote competition.

Franken said the two should not be allowed to merge, but followed up by saying he had not come to any conclusion on the deal. Franken opposed Comcast's merger with NBCU.

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.