FCC Approves Merger of Cable Giants
Agency imposes some conditions on merger but fails to protect Net Neutrality
“WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission today approved the takeover of Adelphia by the nation’s two largest cable companies, Comcast and Time Warner. Conditions placed on the merger would contend with problems related to regional sports networks and leased access for local programming — but they do not include any measures to protect Network Neutrality.
‘We got some of what we asked for, which is a lot more than anyone thought when this all started,’ said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and CEO of Media Access Project. ‘But nothing will fix the regional monopolies created by this deal. And without Net Neutrality, the future of the democratic and open Internet remains in doubt.’
The $17.6 billion deal would give Time Warner and Comcast millions of new subscribers. The merger will also allow the companies to swap systems to strengthen their regional domination of cable markets. Time Warner will now control the market in places such as Los Angeles, Dallas and Cleveland. Comcast will take over cable service in Miami, Northern Virginia, Boston, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.
‘The result of this merger will be fewer choices and higher prices for consumers,’ said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, whose members sent more than 26,000 comments on the merger to the FCC. ‘Just two companies — Comcast and Time Warner — will now control well over half of all subscribers to cable service in the country. These two giant regional gatekeepers will wield immense, unchecked power over what we watch on TV and where we can go online. The failure to include even the limited Net Neutrality conditions imposed by the FCC on recent telephone mergers is a major step backward.'” – Free Press