Franken: Net Neutrality Win Means “We Might Just Be Able To Stop” Comcast/TWC Deal

The Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger is not going as smoothly as either company had hoped. With each passing day, the FCC seems less likely to rubber-stamp their approval, and rumor has it that the Justice Department is leaning against the corporate marriage. With momentum building, merger opponents are taking the chance to push back even harder, and that includes U.S. Senator Al Franken.

In an op-ed this week for TechCrunch, Senator Franken — who has been an outspoken opponent of the merger since it was first announced last year — outlined the ways in which Comcast is basically terrible and should not be permitted to buy Time Warner Cable.

The arguments will be familiar to Consumerist readers, and Franken has pointed to some of them before.

A post-merger Comcast, Franken reminds readers, would control 57% of the nation’s broadband connections. That would give them unprecedented gatekeeper power, both to content companies and to consumers. Additionally, Comcast agreed to a whole bunch of mitigating concessions when they were permitted to buy NBCUniversal in 2011, and they didn’t exactly make good on all of those.

Franken also pointed to Comcast’s supposed devotion to net neutrality — that devotion that was mandated for them in the NBCU merger, and that disappeared in the light of actual, stringent regulations.

“This colossus of a company,” Franken writes, “would have unmatched power to destroy its competition, abuse its customers, and bully the government agencies charged with regulating it. Consumers would face even higher prices, even fewer choices, and, if you can believe such a thing is possible, even worse service.”

But net neutrality is also where Franken gets his hope. A year ago, it looked inevitable that the FCC would approve a plan with fast lanes intact and yet after continued opposition from lawmakers, advocates, and millions of individual citizens, the FCC committed fully to protecting the open internet and reclassified broadband services under Title II of the Communications Act.

“The FCC’s decision on net neutrality has given me new hope,” Franken concludes. “With a loud enough movement –- with enough people like you organizing online, calling your members of Congress, and writing to the FCC and DOJ -– we might just be able to win another uphill battle. We might just be able to stop this deal before Comcast gains even more power to pad their profits at consumers’ expense.”

The Tide Is Turning Against Comcast’s Proposal To Buy Time Warner Cable [TechCrunch]