Comcast/Time Warner Hearing Testimonies Examine Competition Concerns
Posted at 5:18 p.m. on May 7, 2014
Written testimony for tomorrow’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Comcast/Time Warner is now available on the panel’s website. The Brookings Institution’s Darrell M. West spoke with Technocrat about what turns the hearing might take, and he said he thinks most of the questions from panel members will center on how the merger will affect consumers.
Opponents of the merger worry not only about how it would affect service for customers, he says, but also whether some companies will have to pay Comcast more money to access the fastest parts of the network.
In the cable market, West notes, most states have a dominant company, one that provides 80 to 90 percent of coverage. Comcast and Time Warner each dominate in certain states, but they generally don’t compete head to head. The merger is “not really going to make that situation worse because, you know, we already have dominant players” in those markets, he said.
Here are some examples of how the two sides are setting up their arguments:
Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen and Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Robert Marcus in their joint testimony:
The transaction will enable Comcast to build on each company’s successes and strengths and extend Comcast’s industry-leading communications and information services, as well as its substantial commitments to serve the public interest, to millions of additional consumers and businesses, with no risk of harm to competition or the public interest.
Matthew M. Polka, president and CEO of the American Cable Association, which represents small and medium cable, phone and broadband providers, his testimony:
To put it mildly, the Comcast-TWC transaction is a “big deal” that threatens consumers and competition, likely resulting in higher prices for consumers. As I will discuss, there is more than sufficient evidence already to demonstrate that the proposed transaction will result in significant anticompetitive harms in many ways. Unless the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) adopt robust relief to remedy these harms,they cannot, consistent with the law, approve this deal.