For Immediate Release
Timothy Karr, 201-533-8838
Free Press Builds upon Mountain of Evidence Against Proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger
WASHINGTON - In a filing to the Federal Communications Commission today Free Press defended its petition to deny the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, building upon the mountain of evidence already amassed against the proposed $45 billion merger. If approved, the merger would result in a communications colossus that would dominate high-speed telecommunications services in more than 60 percent of the country.
Free Press' filing (available online) urges the agency to reject the proposed merger for three primary reasons:
1) It would lead to no merger-specific benefits but ample transaction-specific harms;
2) It would occur in a market already trending towards a nationwide cable monopoly; and
3) It would give Comcast the market power and incentive to discriminate against and control the emerging high-speed online services market.
Comcast has used its already overwhelming market power to stifle innovation in the growing online video market, according to Free Press' filing. That harmful dominance would be greatly enhanced if regulators allowed Comcast to consummate its merger with Time Warner Cable.
Despite the fact that Comcast markets its broadband connections as capable of delivering content at certain speeds, its customers have been unable to access services and websites, streaming data at only a fraction of the capacity they purchased. "Content owners were more than willing to bring this content to Comcast’s front door, and did not ask for any special treatment," according to Free Press' filing. "All they wanted to do was hand over the data requested by Comcast (via its customers). Instead of accepting this traffic, Comcast engaged in a cynical game of brinksmanship and exercised its market power [in ways that have] harmed millions of consumers."
The filing also highlights the threat posed by allowing a vertically integrated communications system that is devoid of consumer protections afforded to legally recognized and nondiscriminatory telecommunications services. "The Commission cannot forget the availability of telecommunications services is what let experimenters connect computers together to build the Internet half a century ago," according to Free Press' filing. "One company controlling that much of the telecom-capable infrastructure, but refusing to sell telecommunications services, would mean future innovators could not build the next interconnected network of computers."
Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:
"Today we presented several more facts against approval of this merger. Comcast has nothing but self-serving theories, all which have already proven wrong. The Commission has no choice but to reject this transaction.
"Letting one company control so much of America's telecommunications infrastructure puts the future of online innovation at risk. The merged entity would have the unilateral power to dictate what the Internet is today, and how that platform would be allowed to evolve. This is an unacceptable prospect for Internet users, the economy and the future of communications in America."
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