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- “The emergence of broadband Internet has ushered in the most important telecommunications revolution since the telephone. Broadband is changing how we communicate with each other and how we access news, information and entertainment in all aspects of our life. Few things are more important to the future of our economy and democracy than making sure broadband remains an open space in which companies compete rather than dominate. Yet the threat of monopoly-level domination is very real due to the proposed merger of Comcast with Time Warner Cable.

If these two companies are allowed to merge — if Comcast becomes “Mega Comcast” — 50 percent of all high-speed broadband homes receiving 25 megabits per second downstream — what Federal Communications Committee (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler said is “fast becoming table stakes” — will belong to Comcast. And for about 40 percent of such homes, Comcast will be the only choice for such a connection. Moreover, Mega Comcast’s network will pass almost two-thirds of all homes, giving it ample room to further grow its market dominance.

That level of market dominance will open the door for Mega Comcast to harm consumers and blunt competition in all sorts of ways. First, Mega Comcast’s dominance of the broadband market will give it enormous power over which content moves more quickly, is more easily found and is more accessible. Content companies will quickly understand that a special deal with Comcast is the condition for success, forcing companies to pay a toll to enjoy the same availability that is routine today. That will lead to costs being passed on to consumers among those who agree to pay Mega Comcast’s ransom — and it will mean unfair treatment for everyone else.

Second, Comcast will not only be our nation’s dominant content distributor, it will also own some of the largest brands in news, sports and entertainment, including Universal studios movies, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, numerous regional sports networks across the country and some of the largest cable networks, including USA, Bravo, E!, MSNBC, CNBC and many more.

So when consumers are searching for content, whether streaming or through cable, Mega Comcast will have the means and the incentive to advantage NBC Sports over ESPN or FOX1, MSNBC over Fox News, CNBC over Bloomberg, Telemundo over Univision, and on and on. And while large media companies might be able to manage in the face of that potentially unfair competition, smaller independent voices will struggle to get heard at all.

Then there is the matter of price. Americans already pay more for high-speed Internet than most developed nations. Mega Comcast will dominate so much of the market that it could deter the emergence of competing service providers, allowing it to continue charging exorbitant prices and even upping its rates in the future.

Finally, Comcast’s set-top box and new X1 operating system will be the critical gateway through which half of American homes will receive streaming video. That could prevent consumers from being able to take advantage of innovative and lower-cost streaming options, because they will have to pay Comcast’s big monthly bill for access to X1.

Taken together, the emergence of Mega Comcast threatens virtually all aspects of today’s media landscape. More importantly, it puts the company in a position to dictate the future of broadband and television. If the past few years taught us anything, it’s that competition can unlock future possibilities that we never imagined. A decade ago, no one would have thought that tens of millions of Americans would stream their content over the Internet. Yet, we do. And more innovative changes will take place — but only if we prevent any single company from choking off the vital connection between consumers and the companies that want to innovate better solutions for them. That is the great risk this deal poses. That’s why the FCC and the Department of Justice must reject it.”

An editorial appearing in The Hill this week regarding the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger from Gene Kimmelman, President and CEO of Public Knowledge. PK is a member of the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, which formed last week.

The above is a quote from the December 12, 2014, issue of the PTA Friday Report. To view the full issue, please log into the Active Members Only Section of this site (telcos only) or contact to be added to the distribution list (members only)



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