Comcast taken to task for extortion remarks
“We oppose the Comcast merger because it’s anti-competitive, harmful to consumers and potentially dangerous to democracy,” said former Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps, now special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “Comcast’s suggestion that we’ve offered to withdraw our opposition in return for favors from the company is absolutely unfounded and untrue.”
Copps continued, “If combined with Time Warner Cable, Comcast would gain a monopoly on cable services in much of the country and become the nation’s largest broadband provider. We remain convinced that no one should be permitted to gain such a stranglehold on the movement of news and information.”
He concluded, “After the outrageous NBC-Universal merger that I opposed, I never thought there were ANY conditions that would make the Comcast-TWC deal acceptable. In fact, I very clearly said right-off-the-bat that the proposal should be dead-on-arrival at the FCC.”
Polka also had a lot to say about Comcast and its merger plans.
“Comcast’s high-handed dismissal of legitimate concerns raised by ACA and others at the Federal Communications Commission about the Time Warner Cable transaction is yet another example of Comcast’s ‘It’s good to be the king’ attitude that this market-dominating company parades in its business relationships with partners and rivals.
Polka went on, “In its FCC filing, Comcast repeated the old, tired, and hard-to-believe arguments from its initial comments about how this business deal will change the lives of consumers for the better. However, while criticizing and dismissing its critics, Comcast refused to address directly the important public interest concerns raised by parties about the big cable deal’s harms to competition and consumers and the lack of remedies available to address these harms. We think most people will see that Comcast is engaging in a distraction campaign, because the facts and the law favor the other side.
In conclusion, Polka commented, “If this is how Comcast acts before receiving merger approval, just think how the company will act in the market if the merger with Time Warner Cable is approved without adequate remedies and its market power is allowed to grow even larger.
“Comcast acts as if an FCC merger review is a Lockean state of nature, a place where Comcast, by virtue of its power, gets to define what is and what isn’t a valid merger-specific criticism. If Comcast can get away with that, does the FCC’s public interest standard even exist?”