New York State Wants To Hear From You About Comcast-Time Warner Merger

comcast_hearingWhen I arrived for yesterday’s State of New York Public Service Commission hearing in Albany on the Comcast-Time Warner merger, there were about twenty people sitting along the aisles in a theatre that holds 500. While most Americans are against the merger, not many feel strongly enough to scale the vast poured-concrete fortress of the state university campus to speak out about it. That’s okay, though. Anyone can still make their opinion known to the PSC.

Comcast already has about 23,000 customers in New York, and the proposed merger would send Time Warner Cable’s current 2.2 million customers to Kabletown. Why does the Public Service Commission matter? The PSC is a state agency that regulates utility services like telecommunications, electricity, gas, and water. All states have public utility commissions, which you can go to with complaints about your phone, cable, power, or other utilities.

Can the Commissioners stop the merger from going forward nationwide? Nope. What they can do is investigate whether the merger as proposed won’t benefit the people of New York. That’s where we, the public, come in.

If you want to comment on the proposed merger, you can do so without leaving your couch or setting down your smartphone. Send your comments by e-mail to secretary@dps.ny.gov, or write them on a piece of paper and mail them to:

Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess
Secretary, Public Service Commission
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12223

In your e-mail or letter, refer to “Case 14-M-0183, Petition of Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable Inc.” You do not need to be a resident of New York state to comment, but note that your comments will become part of the public record. You can read that record and the comments on file so far from the public on the PSC site.

You can also call 1-800-335-2120 and leave your comment as a voice mail if you’re in New York.

The big hearing that everyone cares about is tonight (Thursday, June 19, 2014, if you’re reading this in the future) at the New York State Department of Public Service, which is in the federal building at 90 Church Street in Manhattan. Some news sources have reported the start time as 6:30, but testimony begins at 6. Public statements are supposed to begin at 7:30, but in Albany, they opened the floor to the public before 7:15.

Not many people were interested in attending the two upstate hearings: a similar hearing in Buffalo had about the same turnout as the one in Albany. Of the members of the public who spoke, three were against the merger, two were for it, and one spoke out against cable monopolies in general.

Albany isn’t far from the borders of Massachusetts and Vermont, and the regions bordering us are part of Kabletown. It’s a little odd to hear Comcast commercials on your favorite radio station out of Vermont when you live in firm Time Warner Cable monopoly country. The two speakers who took a pro-Comcast stance represented nonprofit organizations in economically depressed cities in western Massachusetts and talked about the generosity of Comcast toward their organizations.

Comcast’s case to the public and to the Commissioners is exactly what we’ve been hearing since talk of this merger started: Comcast taking over Time Warner Cable’s territory won’t hurt competition, will improve services, and will provide universal broadband access to all people, even low-income customers.

Again, that’s secretary@dps.ny.gov, Case 14-M-0183.

State Hosts Second Public Forum on Time Warner, Comcast Merger [Time Warner Cable News]

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Two Big Reasons The Comcast And Time Warner Cable Deal Is Bad For Consumers

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  1. Lenne says:

    You see, this is the kind of blatant Apathy that is going to make it seem to the regulators that no ‘real’ person gives an eff about this merger. Who cares if there are surveys that say that ‘most Americans are against the merger’. Although it is probably not true, Surveys don’t seem like real people to me. Actually seeing and speaking to a concerned person makes far greater impact than handing me some survey document. This is just like an American to not really care about something until something bad happens to them personally, like data caps, fast lanes, rate hikes.

  2. Mokona512 says:

    Allowing this merger will be even less motivation to invest in their infrastructure (better service requires better infrastructure; buying another ISP does not magically upgrade the infrastructure of both networks). It will give them such a large market share that they will essentially have the ability to extort, or at the very least, never have to give a fair deal, as they will have the ability to essentially put any other TV station or internet content producer out of business (if they primarily cater to the US market, as they are the gate keeper to the majority of the consumers).

    PS, $45 billion dollars, if spent on upgrades to infrstructure, will allow for for the purchase of enough equipment from Cisco and Juniper to provide everyone in the country with access to their own symmetrical 1 gigabit connection, with enough left over to expand that network to Mexico and South America. If they were interested in improving service and expanding service, they would have put all of that money into their infrastructure.

    The true goal of the merger if one that will provide a massive return on investment. They will have the power to essentially force any TV or internet content producer to agree to almost any unfair deal, or be shut down. For TV users, they can choose to not carry their channel, and cut them out from the majority of the market (easily running them out of business). For internet content and providers, they can make unfair demands and simply threaten to scale back the peering ports to a level where their will be unusable (since the FCC does not punish them for congested ports, it allows them to indirectly block content by degrading the performance to unusable levels (will without throttling). They will have complete and total power as their monopoly status will be expanded and strengthened. (e.g., you will not switch from Comcast broadband, to dialup or satellite internet), they can make bad/ unfair deals that hurts content creators, and content providers, in addition to also hurting the consumers because of the bad deals, with very little risk of losing customers because they are a monopoly.