More Than 300,000 and Counting
Public interest groups deliver comments to the FCC in outpouring of opposition to Charter’s proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks
WASHINGTON - On Thursday, a coalition of media justice, Internet rights and public interest groups delivered more than 300,000 comments to the Federal Communications Commission in opposition to Charter Communications’ proposed $80 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
The groups that helped collect and deliver the public comments include ColorOfChange.org, Common Cause, Courage Campaign, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Free Press, Future of Music Coalition, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Open Media, Public Knowledge and Presente.org.
The FCC, which convened its monthly open meeting today, is charged with determining whether the proposed merger serves the public interest. The Justice Department is also vetting the deal, which, if approved, would combine the nation’s second-, third- and sixth-largest cable Internet providers.
If the merger goes through, just two Internet service providers, Charter and Comcast, would control nearly two out of three of the nation’s high-speed Internet subscriptions. The comments urge FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to use his power to stop the deal. “Higher prices would leave even more people on the wrong side of the digital divide — hitting low-income communities of color the hardest,” the Free Press petition reads.
The following statements can be attributed to spokespeople for the groups opposing the merger:
“If you need access to a fast Internet connection, chances are you’re stuck with one option, your local cable company. This mega-merger would mean that for more than 30 percent of the country that ‘choice’ would only be Charter,” said Center for Media Justice Senior Campaign Manager Steven Renderos. “The Internet has been a space for unique and diverse voices to be heard. Allowing a corporation like Charter to become one of the few gatekeepers to the Internet will undoubtedly harm how those voices are heard, if they’re heard at all.”
“It’s the same old story of Big Cable wanting to get bigger at the expense of consumers, content creators and innovators. We need regulators to see this for what it is and reject the merger as inimical to the public interest,” said former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser Michael Copps.
“The Charter-Time Warner Cable merger would be one of the most damaging corporate takeovers in our nation’s history — leaving millions of consumers across the country with skyrocketing rates, fewer options and even worse service,” said Courage Campaign Executive Director Eddie Kurtz. “Courage Campaign and our over 1.2 million members strongly urge the FCC to have the courage to stand up for consumers and freedom of choice, and reject this merger without conditions."
“The proposed Charter-Time Warner Cable merger represents the kind of noxious corporate takeover Demand Progress members and the public have continually spoken out against. It’s a deal between powerful, entrenched interests that would lead to bigger profits for ‘New Charter’ and higher prices for customers while diminishing competition and consumer choice,” said Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. “The outpouring of public opposition should make it clear for Chairman Tom Wheeler and the FCC: When it comes to the Big Cable industry and its sordid track record, consumers want greater competition in the marketplace, not more mergers.”
“The deal would create a virtual cable duopoly over broadband access and pay-video services, saddling the company with outrageous debt and customers with higher bills,” said Free Press Field Director Mary Alice Crim. “The cost of broadband for struggling American families is too high as it is. The Charter-Time Warner Cable merger would only make it more difficult for them to connect and communicate.”
“A merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable is a bad deal for diverse communities in America,” said National Hispanic Media Coalition Vice President of Policy Michael Scurato. “Charter has not demonstrated that it is committed to hiring a workforce that reflects the communities they seek to serve, carrying culturally relevant programming for their diverse audience or fully participating in existing programs, like Lifeline, that could soon help bring communities of color online. This merger should be rejected — we need more options for affordable and open access to communications, not fewer.”
“Our members — Latinos and our allies across the country — strongly oppose the Charter-Time Warner Cable merger because it would give one company unprecedented power to restrict Latino programming, raise our prices and reduce our services,” said Presente.org Managing Director Matt Nelson. “Charter Communications is one of the most hated companies in the U.S., in part because of its bad reputation with and practices in Latino communities.”
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