Groups to Wheeler: “No conditions, no side deals, no merger!”
By Michael McCauley on Friday, April 17th, 2015
Opposition to the Comcast mega merger has been mounting in recent months and a deal that was once considered a slam dunk now looks increasing uncertain as opponents continue to turn up the heat.
If the merger is approved, Comcast would control over half of the high-speed residential broadband connections in the U.S. and dominate pay-TV across the nation. Giving Comcast unprecedented control of the cable TV and broadband markets on top of its ownership of NBC-Universal’s “must-have” video programming makes the merger particularly troubling.
That prospect has united a wide-ranging group of opponents concerned that it would result in too much power in the hands of one company. In a letter sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today signed by Consumers Union and 36 other consumer groups, community organizations, and businesses, opponents called for the deal to be rejected outright. The letter emphasizes that no conditions could be imposed on Comcast in exchange for approving the merger that could prevent or overcome the damage the cable and Internet giant’s takeover scheme would cause.
The groups noted that Wheeler has staked his chairmanship on the importance of fostering competition to protect consumers and spur innovation, investment, lower prices and diversity. In a speech delivered last fall, Wheeler noted that nearly three-quarters of Americans have just one choice when it comes to broadband providers. Consumers benefit when they can effectively bargain with their residential broadband providers. But to bargain effectively, they need the ability to take their business elsewhere. And in many areas of the country, there is already little or no opportunity to do that.
In their letter to Wheeler, the groups pointed out:
“Your steadfast commitment to competition would risk being eviscerated if Comcast were allowed to control over 50 percent of high-speed residential broadband nationwide. No conditions…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.”
Over 700,000 Americans have already urged the FCC to turn down the merger through petitions and comments filed with the agency. Help us keep up the pressure by signing our petition to the FCC today!