The PTC is pleased to join forces with other public interest groups, concerned private companies, labor unions and industry associations to form the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition. Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced the $45 billion deal in February; however, the transaction must be approved by both the Department of Justice as well as the Federal Communications Commission.
You may be wondering why the PTC would have an interest in opposing the merger of the largest two landline cable operations, and the answer is simple: the merged company would have overwhelming market power which would be used to extend the cable industry’s forced “bundling” of programming and exacerbate the preexisting issues already affecting millions of parents and families. In effect, it would take a bad situation for consumers and make it much worse, forcing families to pay for an enormous amount of content that they don’t want, don’t watch and all too often find offensive or even harmful to their families.
For example, just a couple of weeks ago, FX brought HBO-caliber p*rnography to basic cable – and you had to pay for it just to get access to the terrific programming available on cable. The PTC’s comments with the FCC concerning the proposed merger lay out in more detail our concerns.
In addition to the PTC’s primary concern about program bundling, the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable creates other related problems that will certainly impact the future of diversity, pricing and, ultimately, distribution of programming
From the coalition’s statement:
• Broadband: Mega Comcast would control 50% of the high-speed broadband market. Those who want their content to flow quickly and freely will have to submit to Mega Comcast’s terms, giving Mega Comcast the power and the incentive to increase their prices at the expense of consumers, content creators and innovation.
• Programming and Pay TV: Mega Comcast would be the nation’s most dominant pay TV provider, while also owning NBC-Universal, one of the biggest programmers in the world. Mega Comcast would have the means and the incentive to advance its own content at the expense of other programmers, and forcing consumers to pay more for content not controlled by Mega Comcast.
• Connected Consumer Devices: Mega Comcast’s X1 Platform would be the default streaming system for the vast majority of broadband subscribers, affording Mega Comcast extraordinary power over the content available to broadband consumers and forcing competing devices to submit to Mega Comcast’s terms in order to gain entry to the marketplace. This means fewer choices for consumers and less motivation for companies to invest in new and innovative technologies.
• Local Advertising: Mega Comcast would control over 75% of the local cable advertising market. Local cable ads are critical for local businesses, particularly small businesses, to reach their customers. Local cable advertising is also a critical component of business for cable companies. Confronted with Mega Comcast’s control over 75% of the market, small business marketers and cable companies will have no choice but to pay Mega Comcast’s rates, raising small business costs and increasing prices for consumers.
• Latino and Minorities: Mega Comcast would reach more than 91% of Latino households and control programming in 19 of the top 20 Latino media markets. That means virtually the entire Latino community could find itself with far fewer programming choices, lower quality programming and fewer opportunities for Latinos in the creative content industries.
It is clear that this proposed merger is not in the public interest and we urge the Department of Justice and the FCC to reject the merger outright.