Free Press Urges FCC to Reject Comcast/NBC Deal

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Liz Rose, Communications Director
202-265-1490 x 32

Free Press Urges FCC to Reject Comcast/NBC Deal

Merger Would Mean Higher Cable Rates and Fewer Choices in Programming and Services

CHICAGO - Free Press President and CEO Josh Silver will
testify today before the Federal Communications Commission's public
forum on Comcast's proposed takeover of NBC Universal. Free Press has
been an outspoken critic of the proposed merger, which would result in
higher prices for consumers and fewer choices in programming and
services, and would limit innovation in the emerging online video
market.

Comcast is Chicago's dominant cable and Internet provider, and now
the company wants to acquire NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago. If
this deal goes through, nearly a quarter of Chicago's commercial cable
channels in the most popular cable package will be owned by Comcast.

In excerpts from his prepared testimony, Silver said:

"Policymaking at the behest of the largest companies - across
industries - is threatening our economy, our oceans, our security and
the very viability of our democracy. Just look at the ongoing recession
or the Gulf of Mexico for the most recent examples. ... Insufficient
government oversight has already allowed companies like Comcast to
overcharge customers who have no alternative providers when bills are
too high or service quality is too low.

"The merger would allow a single company to own a huge array of
popular content, and to exert excessive control over how it is
distributed over the airwaves, cable and Internet. Such dominance over
any one of these provides sufficient reason for the FCC to block the
transaction. The merged giant's power over all three platforms requires
that regulators stop the deal.

"Comcast and NBC bear the burden of proving to the Commission that
this transaction not only will not harm consumers and competition, but
that it will actually advance public interest goals. Comcast and NBC
have not made and cannot make this showing. ... Some have suggested that
if we place conditions on the deal, everything will be OK. But requiring
conditions to neutralize the harms of a bad merger is not the same as
ensuring that the merger affirmatively produces real public interest
outcomes. Importantly, such conditions would expire in a few years. With
this deal, the anticompetitive incentives would be part of the DNA of
the merged company, making conditions with a shelf life about as helpful
as putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg."

Last month, Free Press and other public interest groups filed a
Petition to Deny with the FCC, and, along with allies, filed nearly
70,000 signatures opposing the merger.

A copy of Josh Silver's testimony is here: http://www.freepress.net/files/Silver_Testimony_Chicago_07132010.pdf

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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