Senators Reiterate Opposition to Comcast/TWC Merger

Democratic senators who don't like the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger reminded the FCC of that fact in advance of a planned meeting between Justice Department officials and the companies Wednesday.

The senators were buoyed by reports that Justice was leaning against approving the deal.

Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent letters to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and the Justice Department saying the deal would give the combined companies too much market power and the public fewer choices.

"As the FCC and DOJ finalize their reviews of Comcast’s proposed acquisition of TWC, we urge you to defend American competition and innovation and ensure that Americans have affordable access to high-quality telecommunications services," the senators wrote. 

Comcast and Time Warner Cable say the deal is pro-consumer, will allow them to better compete with national video providers like Dish, DirecTV and Netflix, and point out that they don't compete in the markets being combined, so the combo will not reduce choice.

"The benefits of the Comcast TWC deal are demonstrated and real," said a Comcast spokesperson. "A better video experience - Comcast has twice as much VOD as TWC.  Faster broadband speeds - today Comcast's are 25% faster than TWC's and we'll roll out faster speeds to more customers. More competition for businesses that economists estimate will save $8 billion for consumers.  The country's best broadband adoption program for low-income Americans would come to new cities, and even more Americans will get connected for the first time.  These benefits all come with no reduction in competition for consumers.  We'll serve less than 30% of the video market, and only about 30 million of the 87 million broadband subscriptions in the US."

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.