Advanced Television

US consumers against Comcast/TWC merger

March 9, 2015

By Colin Mann

US consumer advocacy body Consumers Union is heightening its opposition to the proposed merger of Comcast with Time Warner Cable by launching a new ad campaign in support of its efforts to see the deal rejected.

It suggests that if the deal gets approved, Comcast would gain unprecedented control over what people see on TV and online, and how much they pay for it.

“At Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, we think this merger is a bad deal for consumers. A combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable would have little incentive to treat you the customer better. Instead, you could expect things to go from bad to worse—higher prices, fewer choices, and more poor service,” it says.

“For the past year, we’ve been making our case to the Federal Communications Commission, the Justice Department, members of Congress and other policymakers, and state attorneys general to explain why we think this deal ought to be rejected,” it advises.

“This month, we’re launching a new ad campaign to press regulators to do the right thing for consumers. The print and online ads are running in the Washington, D.C. market, as well as on the radio. Our basic message is: ‘What’s worse than Comcast today? Comcast tomorrow’,” it announces.

The ads point out that this merger would give Comcast control over 60 per cent of the cable TV market and more than half of the high-speed broadband service in the United States. Consumers Union points out that Comcast already owns extensive programming through its previous merger with NBC Universal, as well as regional sports networks and other video content. “This latest merger would give Comcast more control than ever over key programming, along with the pipes to deliver those programmes into American homes,” it notes, suggesting that Comcast’s greater national dominance would give it “tremendous” power to dictate what programmes are offered to consumers and make it harder for Internet-based companies and other services to even attempt to compete with Comcast. “The impact of this merger would be felt nationwide, far beyond Comcast’s disgruntled customer base,” it warns.

“The FCC recently did the right thing by adopting strong rules to keep the Internet open. Now it needs to stop Comcast’s domination plan and reject this merger,” it urges.

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