Groups Protest Time Warner Cable Merger Outside Comcast Meeting

Click image to see the full-page ad Consumers Union took out in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other papers.

Click image to see the full-page ad Consumers Union took out in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other papers.

On Thursday, Comcast’s investors will be meeting here in Philadelphia, but they’ll be doing so over the din of protestors from numerous local and national organizations who are coming out to oppose the cable company’s planned merger with Time Warner Cable.

Among the groups involved in the event outside the Kimmel Center on Broad St. Wednesday morning will be our own Consumers Union, which has taken out a full-page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer to voice opposition to the mega-merger.

“This merger would give Comcast unprecedented power over what we see, how fast we see it, and how much we pay,” said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “Comcast and Time Warner Cable already rank near the bottom of the latest Consumer Reports’ customer satisfaction survey. Consumers stand to lose big if this merger is approved.”

Even in Comcast’s hometown, it gets little love from consumer advocates.

“Comcast’s service in Philadelphia is a great reason why they should not be allowed to expand,” said Bryan Mercer, co-Executive Director of the Media Mobilizing Project, which launched the CAP Comcast! Campaign earlier this year to hold Comcast accountable in Philadelphia as it renegotiates its franchise to sell services in its hometown. “If they merged with Time Warner Cable, their high prices, bad record of service to low income communities, and outsized political power would expand even more.”

Comcast has repeatedly touted its Internet Essentials program as an indicator of just how much the company wants to help bridge the data gap, making Internet access available to low-income families, but many have questioned the actual long-term value of the program, and only a small fraction of eligible families have been enrolled in the program.

“When Comcast promised working families in Philadelphia that we could get discounted internet services, that should have been a promise we could trust,” said Dawn Hawkins of Action United, which has been organizing for a redo of Internet Essentials. “But when I applied, Comcast held a ten-plus year old bill against me and kept my family offline. Comcast should not be able to merge with Time Warner Cable, and push broken promises for families instead of affordable internet for everybody.”

The coalition opposing the Comcast/TWC deal have already gathered 400,000 signatures on a petition to halt the merger.

“While Comcast executives are spinning this deal as a positive before investors in Philadelphia and bureaucrats in Washington, the rest of the country isn’t so easily fooled,” said Mary Alice Crim of Free Press. “For us this merger means sky-high prices, lousy customer service and too few companies controlling the future of communications in the United States. It’s time regulators in Washington ignored the lobbyists, listened to the public and rejected the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger outright.”

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