New Coalition Steps Up To Fight “Mega Comcast” Merger As FCC Restarts Review Clock

It’s the plot of a certain kind of action movie or video game that we’ve all seen and played a thousand times: the big bad robot/alien/lizard comes crashing into town and the only thing that will stop it is when an unlikely band of allies group up and save the world. If politics and business are a game, as so many participants seem to think, then now they are apparently one of that genre, as an unlikely band of allies is now grouping together under one banner to fight the Comcast/Time Warner Cable mega-merger.

Politico first reported on the new organization, the “Stop Mega Comcast Coaliton.” The coalition wants exactly what it says on the tin: to prevent Comcast from growing even larger by buying Timer Warner Cable.

The 15-member alliance includes media companies, consumer advocacy groups, and TV/telecom businesses. On the business side, Dish is the biggest headlining name. They are joined by trade groups representing mid-sized and rural communications companies, as well as some small ISPS.

In media, Glenn Beck’s cable network The Blaze is on board along with WeatherNation, a competitor to Comcast-backed The Weather Channel. So is the Writers Guild of America, which represents film and TV writers and has been vocal in opposing the merger.

Advocacy group Public Knowledge is also in the alliance, as are the Consumer Federation of America and Consumer Action. They are joined by the Parents’ Television Council and by groups representing diversity interests, musicians’ interests, and sports fans’ interests.

The group’s “manifesto” is a familiar refrain by now. Comcast, post-merger, will have both the ability and the incentive to behave in even more anticompetitive ways that harm businesses both up- and downstream, as well as potential direct competitors.

A merged Comcast/TWC would control not just too much of the pay-TV market, the coalition argues, but also far too large a share of the high-speed residential broadband market, which would allow them to shut out over-the-top services as well.

“This much power concentrated in a single entity would be frightening even for the most trustworthy of companies. And Comcast is definitely not that,” the coalition writes. “In fact, Comcast at its current size already has a well-established record of abusing its market power, ignoring merger conditions and providing historically bad service to its customers.”

The coalition lists what they deem to be the worst of Comcast’s “bad acts” on their site, and concludes: “These facts, along with Comcast’s long history of abusing its power and disregarding its legal obligations, provide ample grounds for the DOJ and the FCC to reject the deal. It is not a close call.”

As for the FCC, after a long break due to some fighting over confidentiality, the agency has restarted the clock on their merger review. The informal 180-day review period should now, barring further delays, wrap up in early March.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.