Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Comcast/Time Warner Hearing Testimonies Examine Competition Concerns

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.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    Those people who think that the unemployed are “lazy”, and prefer collecting unemployment benefits, have no clue of the reality facing these families. Most of these people had long term employment, and had families to support. The majority of them are “older” Americans, who had worked for many years, paying into the system, should they become unemployed, and needed financial assistance. These workers through no fault of their own, found themselves victims of corporate downsizing, and were laid off from their jobs. Given the current economic recession, they have had a particularly difficult time finding employment. Also, many companies are not motivated to hire “older” workers, due in part of the higher cost of health care insurance for older workers. Older workers, just on the basis of their age, would be placed in a “higher risk” group, which would affect the potential employer’s bottom line cost. As we all know, it’s all about profit and “the bottom line”. Since last December, more than 2.6 million workers have been without unemployment benefits. The republican senate has held the extension bill “HOSTAGE”, in the hopes of getting the XL Oil Pipeline passed by the president. This has NEVER been about these unfortunate families, but only about pleasing the lobbyist for whom they truly serve. While the republicans continue playing “party politics”, and using these families for political leverage, and as bargaining chips, these families have had to face evictions, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcy, and homelessness. Most of them have watched their credit being destroyed, because of lack of money to pay their bills on time, or at all. How many more families have to become homeless and destitute before the senate finally PASSES the extension bill? This truly is a national crime against the American family. While the politicians live their affluent and privileged lifestyles, with all the perks of office, these families continue to suffer and struggle to eat and to live.

  • White Army

    Those possessed with utopian delusions attack and undermine the key institutions, such as private property, upon which civilization depends.

  • pingpal

    Sounds like the old song – bigger, faster, better. Yet the overwhelming reality is that most mergers are not good for companies OR consumers. Whenever there is an attempt to combine two companies, there is an abysmal lack of knowledge about the other party. That knowledge is uncovered only after the agreements are signed and commitments are made. In the case specific, ComCast has a reputation for bad acts as a company. A merger that gives ComCast more power is unlikely to achieve the stated goals. We need these two companies to compete head to head.

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