Consumer Groups Quick to Warn Against Comcast Deal to Buy Time Warner Cable

“A merger of the two biggest cable companies should be unthinkable,” says leading advocate

Consumer groups concerned about media consolidation were quick to reject the prospect of a merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, with one urging the FCC and Justice Department to block the deal even before it was announced.
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement Wednesday night his group would urge the deal be rejected:

“In an already uncompetitive market with high prices that keep going up and up, a merger of the two biggest cable companies should be unthinkable,” he said. “This deal would be a disaster for consumers and must be stopped.”

Also read: Comcast to Buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 Billion (Report)

He said the deal would give Comcast control of more than a third of the U.S. pay-TV market and more than half of the U.S. triple-play market for video, voice and Internet service.
Multiple media outlets reported late Wednesday that Comcast was set to buy Time Warner Cable for a total of $45 billion.

“Comcast will have unprecedented market power over consumers and an unprecedented ability to exert its influence over any channels or businesses that want to reach Comcast’s customers.” said Aaron.

“No one woke up this morning wishing their cable company was bigger or had more control over what they could watch or download. But that — along with higher bills — is  the reality they’ll face tomorrow unless the Department of Justice and the FCC do their jobs and block this merger. Stopping this kind of deal is exactly why we have antitrust laws.

Also read: Time Warner Cable CEO Says Charter Bid ‘Undervalues’ Company

“Americans already hate dealing with the cable guy — and both these giant companies regularly rank among the worst of the worst in consumer surveys. But this deal would be the cable guy on steroids — pumped up, unstoppable and grasping for your wallet.”

Public Knowledge, another consumer group, offered similar sentiments. John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney in a statement said the deal would give Comcast too much control and called on the FCC and Justice Department to stop the deal..

“It is simply dangerous for a large proportion of our nation’s critical communications infrastructure to be in the hands of one provider.”He said the deal would give Comcast “unprecedented gatekeeper power” in several major markets. “It is already the nation’s largest ISP, the nation’s largest video provider, and the nation’s largest home phone provider.  It also controls a movie studio, broadcast network, and many popular cable channels,” he said.

“An enlarged Comcast would be the bully in the schoolyard, able to dictate terms to content creators, Internet companies, other communications networks that must interconnect with it, and distributors who must access its content.”