Stop Mega Cable Coalition Hammers Charter-TWC Deal in Person(s)
Confirming a report in B&C, the Stop Mega Cable Coalition has filed an ex parte notice of a meeting last Friday with FCC officials over the Charter-Time Warner Cable merger.
In meetings with, among others, the transaction team vetting the deal and Gigi Sohn, top advisor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, coalition members including Dish, Public Knowledge (Sohn is the former cofounder) and Zoom Telephonics—USTelecom has dropped—hit all their major talking points.
Their main point is that the deal poses "significant" competitive harms.
Those included, they told their FCC audience: broadband dominance in many major markets; the incentive and opportunity to harm competitive streaming video services in favor of their own services; incentive and ability to "starve" independent programmers; and the power to damage competing modem manufacturers.
They also talked about the new debt load in the deal and the incentive to cut costs, limit investment and raise prices.
One coalition member at the meeting called the FCC officials' response "receptive, but noncommittal."
“Charter is a different type of cable company—committed to creating American jobs, offering the most innovative products, delivering fast internet speeds, preserving an open internet and advancing online video friendly policies including no data caps and no modem fees," the company said when the coalition coalesced to criticize the deal.
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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.
By Kent Gibbons