The request comes from 40 organizations including the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition. The letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says “the only way to protect [a] competitive future now is to reject the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger outright — no conditions, no side deals — no merger, period.”
The FCC today was urged to turn down the proposed merger of Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable by a coalition of 40 groups “because it would result in too much power in the hands of one company.”
The request came in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from 40 groups, including the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition, which said “the combined company would, among other things: control over half of the high-speed residential broadband connections in the United States; dominate pay TV across the nation; combine even stronger distribution muscle with NBCUniversal’s “must-have” video programming; and control critical advertising and set-top-box inputs.”
The letter went on to say: “You have staked your chairmanship on the importance of fostering competition to protect consumers and spur innovation, investment, lower prices and diversity. We agree. And the only way to protect that competitive future now is to reject the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger outright — no conditions, no side deals — no merger, period.
“As the record demonstrates, and particularly for a company with a track record of disregarding conditions from its last major acquisition, Comcast cannot be relied upon to comply with new conditions that run counter to its built-in incentives to exploit the new market power it would gain from the proposed merger. This is especially true when the sheer size and scope of a combined Comcast/Time Warner Cable, coupled with its incentive to protect its core video business from innovative “over-the-top” online video providers, would allow it to threaten nascent competition in so many different ways.
“If the commission approves the merger believing that conditions can somehow prevent or address these harms, there is no going back. The consequences of getting it wrong are too great, the risks simply too high. The public deserves better.”
The letter closes by telling Wheeler: “Your steadfast commitment to competition would risk being eviscerated if Comcast were allowed to control over 50% of high-speed residential broadband connections nationwide. No condition, including but not limited to a “net neutrality” provision modeled on the Open Internet order, can address the myriad ways a combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable would be able to thwart competition and convert its massive network into a closed system of preferential treatment for its own content or the content of a select few.”
Previously, The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition has charged that “both Comcast and Time Warner have abused the statutory responsibilities they have in regards to ‘leased access’ for LPTV stations, and have chosen to act as gatekeepers of content by charging selected networks nothing and others the full authorized rate.”
The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition says it “has asked the FCC for all LPTV contracts from the merger partners, but the FCC says it lacks discovery powers in the context of the incentive auction, and does not choose to exercise its discretionary powers in the merger for them.”
The parties to the letter were: beIn Sports, Benton Foundation, Cogent Communications, Color of Change, COMPTEL, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumers Union, Courage Campaign, Demand Progress, Dish Network, Engine, Free Press, Future of Music Coalition, The Greelining Institute, ITTA, Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership, LPTV Coalition, Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce, Media Alliance, National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, National Asian American Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, OpenMedia, Parents Television Council, Presente, Public Knowledge, Tutal Broadband Alliance, Sports Fans Coalition, TURN, WeatherNation, Writers Guild of America East, Writers Guild of America West and Zee Network.