Comcast and Time Warner Cable told federal regulators Tuesday that their proposed $45 billion merger would mean better service for customers, technological innovation, and even more internet for the poor.
Critics didn’t see it that way.
“The proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger would give one company enormous power over our nation’s media and communications infrastructure,” said a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission by more than 50 consumer groups including Free Press, as well as the Writers Guild of America.
“This massive consolidation would position Comcast as our communications gatekeeper, giving it the power to dictate the future of numerous industries across the Internet, television and telecommunications landscape,” the letter added.
But how do you really feel?
“The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger would give Comcast unthinkable gatekeeper power over our commercial, social and civic lives. Everyone from the biggest business to the smallest startup, from elected officials to everyday people, would have to cross through Comcast’s gates,” the letter continued.
The Consumer Federation of America, meanwhile, released a study saying the deal would result in a “massive increase” in market power for Comcast.
“This merger causes such a massive increase in market power that it doesn’t just violate the antitrust laws and the Communications Act, it obliterates them,” said the group’s research director, Mark Cooper in a statement.
The group’s study said Comcast’s size would give it too much power to set prices for content. As a broadband provider, the study said, Comcast would be able to undermine online video distribution by raising its rivals costs, degrading their service quality or blocking the delivery of their products altogether.
The filing come on the eve of a Wednesday hearing on the deal by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. Several senators question whether the deal gives the company too much power over the future of the web and TV — especially given that Comcast just purchased NBCUniversal, three years ago, for $30 billion.