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Free Press

Cable's Domination by Comcast Must Be Stopped

With this much power, the new norm will be whatever Comcast wants it to be. (Photo: file)

The annual debate in my house over our cable package is on.

We’ve run the gamut from wanting to cancel our cable to considering an upgrade to ensure we’ll get all the televised replays of our beloved Sox come September.

The problem is that we’re stuck no matter what option we come up with. If we cancel cable our Internet fees go up, and if we upgrade our cable package our cable fees go up. And this is on top of our annual rate hikes.

Where I live Comcast is the only game in town. While I can live without cable, Internet access is key to both my paid and volunteer work, to maintaining relationships with my friends and family, to paying bills — and to finding good old cathartic entertainment.

The situation I’m in is common from coast to coast. In many markets, Comcast and other big telecommunications companies don’t directly compete with each other, meaning consumers don’t have other options to turn to. The companies prefer to control their respective domains — and our pocketbooks.

And this is all about to get worse. Much, much worse.

Comcast, the nation’s No. 1 cable and Internet company, wants to take over Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 cable provider. Put them together and you get one media giant controlling the vast majority of pay-TV and Internet access in America.

If the deal is approved, Comcast will control half of the truly high-speed Internet market, half of the TV/Internet-bundle market and a third of the pay-TV market. With this much power, the new norm will be whatever Comcast wants it to be.

A bloated Comcast will likely engage in all kinds of shenanigans that hurt consumers — everything from instituting totally unnecessary data caps to restricting what kinds of devices customers attach to the network to forcing folks to purchase expensive equipment. And though Comcast is obliged to adhere to the FCC’s now-overturned (and loophole-ridden) open Internet rules, this condition will expire in January 2018.

All of this will result in higher prices. The company’s top lobbyist has said as much: “We’re certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or that they’ll increase less rapidly.”

This much power in the hands of one company is bad news for all U.S. residents, including those who live in communities Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t serve. Comcast would be able to use its market power to dictate the terms of broadband openness, cost and access at a time when the U.S. is falling behind other nations on each of these measures. With Comcast in charge we’ll continue to sink in the ratings.

The good news is that we can stop this merger. Check out the Free Press image below and share it with your networks. Then join the almost half a million people who have told the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department to block the merger. Together we can stop Comcast in its tracks.

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Mary Alice Crim

Mary Alice Crim

Mary Alice Crim is the engagement and events director for the media reform group Free Press.

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