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Exposing Comcast's Hollow 'Public Interest' Commitments

Analysis by Leading Consumer Groups Finds ‘Concessions’ in NBC Takeover Mostly Meaningless

WASHINGTON - Free Press, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America today released a new analysis of the "public interest commitments" offered by Comcast following the announcement of its merger with NBC Universal.

The consumer groups show that Comcast’s commitments don’t provide
the public any greater value or benefit in services. None of the
measures in the company’s nine-point plan (detailed in a memo here)
would address concerns about higher cable and broadband rates for
consumers or the concentration of power in one company across multiple
media markets.

"These so-called concessions fail to deal with any of the consumer
concerns we have raised about the Comcast-NBCU merger reducing
competition in cable TV, hiking cable prices, or stifling innovation in
new media markets," said Josh Silver, executive
director of Free Press. "In fact, none of these pledges would force
Comcast to take any action beyond what it is already doing, is likely
to do anyway, or is bound to do by current law. American consumers
deserve more than empty promises and window dressing."

Examples of the largely meaningless commitments include a promise to
continue to provide free over-the-air television, a pledge that the
company won’t try to secretly bias NBC news coverage, and a vow it will
continue to follow the Federal Communication Commission’s program
access and retransmission consent rules -- which the company is already
bound to follow by law.

"With significant market power in three distribution platforms --
cable, broadcast and Internet -- Comcast can withhold programming from
competitors, raise prices with impunity, and squash competition from
emerging online video outlets by starving them of content," said Joel Kelsey,
a federal and international affairs policy analyst for Consumers Union.
"Nothing Comcast has promised to do would alleviate any of the
competitive and antitrust issues that federal regulators should
investigate while reviewing this merger."

Read Comcast’s Hollow 'Public Interest' Commitments


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