During yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on satellite TV legislation, the Minnesota senator took a moment to discuss the potential impact that a merged Comcast/TWC would have.
“I believe that the cable industry could become even more powerful if Comcast is allowed to acquire Time Warner Cable,” said Franken, who rose to fame working for NBC, the network now owned by Comcast. “I strongly oppose this acquisition, and it’s a good reminder that consumers need more competition from satellite TV.”
He later added, “I believe it’s a terrible deal for consumers.”
Others at the hearing echoed Franken’s concerns about the merger.
Ellen Stutzman, Director Of Research And Public Policy at the Writers Guild of America reiterated many of the same points the WGA made in its recent filing with the FCC in opposition to the merger.
“It’s not in the public interest,” said Stutman. “It’s anticompetitive and it’s a bad deal for content creators as well as consumers. Comcast is already the largest cable and allowing them to get bigger by acquiring 8 or 10 million new customers will make them too powerful of a content gatekeeper.”
John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, testified that the Comcast/TWC merger would raise prices for consumers and “create a single gatekeeper for programming and broadband of almost unprecedented power.”
Earlier this month, Franken wrote a letter to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, asking the Commission to consider Comcast’s long history of broken promises and shady anticonsumer practices before deciding whether or not to allow the merger to move forward.
“Recent history,” wrote Franken, “including Comcast’s adherence to the legal obligations it owes the public, should be taken into account when deciding whether to permit further consolidation in the cable and broadband markets.”