Quantcast
Connect with us

Congress airs its concerns over Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal

Published

on

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers expressed concern about combining the top two U.S. cable operators at a congressional hearing Thursday to discuss Comcast’s plan to merge with Time Warner Cable Inc.

While none of the lawmakers asked regulators to block the transaction, both Republicans and Democrats cautioned there were potential negatives in the $45 billion deal.

ADVERTISEMENT

Representative Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, worried that small programmers may not be able to sell video to cable operators. “I don’t want to sound hostile to this merger,” he said, but noted constituents and interest groups have raised concerns.

Representative John Conyers, a Democratic critic of big mergers in general, said a combined Comcast/Time Warner Cable would have 30 percent of the cable market, at least 40 percent of the broadband market, 19 of the 20 biggest cable markets and a major Spanish-language channel, as well as movies and television shows and sports programming.

“Comcast is a cable company and a programmer. That raises a double concern with me,” said Conyers. “I don’t know if it’s resolvable.”

Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen tried to allay the concerns. “This transaction has the potential to slow the increase in prices. … Consumers are going to be the big winners,” he told a hearing of the House of Representatives’ antitrust panel.
A trio of lawmakers pressed Cohen on why the company decided to reduce the number of areas where it showed programming from Rural Media Group, whose founder, Patrick Gottsch, testified.
Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, said: “A lot of people who move from the farm to the urban area still want to be connected to the farm.”
Cohen said the decision was made because of a shortage of bandwidth, and was not necessarily permanent.
“We carry 160 independent programming networks,” he said. “We’re a company that really tries to find the niches of programming that customers in particular markets are interested in.”
Comcast faced tough criticism from Dave Schaeffer, CEO of Cogent Communications Group Inc, which has been a high-speed go-between for Netflix Inc and Comcast. In February, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast to connect directly.

Schaeffer said that, after years of free connections, Comcast demanded Cogent pay to remedy Netflix’s balky speed. Schaeffer said Cogent offered to pay some hardware costs, but that Comcast had remained silent and no agreement was reached.

ADVERTISEMENT

“That’s not a free market. That’s an abuse of market power,” he said.

Cohen disagreed. “We did not force Netflix to enter into an interconnection deal with us. That was Netflix’ idea,” he said, noting that the company said it wanted to “cut out the middleman.”

Cohen said he could not disclose the terms of the deal but added, “It has been publicly reported that Netflix is paying not more to us under this agreement, but less (than they paid Cogent).”

ADVERTISEMENT

Netflix has been critical of the agreement it made, with one executive calling it “double-dipping” since Comcast customers and Netflix both pay to have the movies and TV shows delivered to living rooms.

The American Cable Association’s Matthew Polka also worried about video programming and urged the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, which must review the deal, to ensure Comcast does not raise prices or withhold shows from smaller rivals.

ADVERTISEMENT

Comcast said on April 28 that it was willing to divest nearly 4 million subscribers to win approval for the deal. That would leave it with 29 million subscribers if the deal goes through.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Ros Krasny, Doina Chiacu, Andre Grenon, Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)

[Image: A Comcast sign is shown on the entrance to its store in San Francisco, California February 13, 2014. By Robert Galbraith for Reuters]

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Colbert names Trump’s siege on DC the ‘Tinyman Square’ incident

Published

on

It wasn't quite Tiananmen Square, where a still-unknown number of Chinese protesters were murdered by the government in 1989, but it was the closest thing President Donald Trump managed to score this week.

After watching the footage of the military tear gas, beat and shoot at protesters so Trump could march from the presidential bunker to St. John's Church for the cameras.

"It was like Tiananmen Square," Colbert deemed. "Except, in Trump's case, Tinyman Square."

Trump claimed on "The Fox & Friends" that no one was tear-gassed, so it's unclear what was stinging people's eyes and making them cough, choke and tear up. The Park Police released a statement saying it wasn't tear gas. While the moment was captured on video from dozens of different camera angles, one protester actually grabbed a canister of Oleoresins Capiscum, or "OC," the gas that was used.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Vladimir Putin must love watching the US fall apart: columnist

Published

on

New Yorker columnist Susan Glasser made the astute observation that if Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to destabilize the United States with the election of President Donald Trump, he's clearly achieved his objective.

It was reported in March that Russian intelligence services are working to incite violence using white supremacist groups to try and sow racial chaos in the United States ahead of the November election.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Conservative columnist links all Republicans to the attack on Lafayette Square

Published

on

Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump decided to walk across Lafayette Square for a photo-op. To get there, however, it took an outright battle with mounted park police, police covered in body armor and rattled Secret Service members who had just rushed the president to the bunker several nights before. Armed with semi-automatic weapons and military gear, they staged a siege on Lafayette Square against unarmed hippies, woke whites and people of color, again, forced to fight for justice.

Writing for the Washington Post Wednesday, conservative columnist Max Boot attacked Attorney General Bill Barr, who accepted responsibility for demanding that demonstrators be tear-gassed, beaten and shot with rubber bullets. Like Bull Conor ordering fire hoses on students marching in Birmingham, Alabama, Barr's attack on Lafayette Square for a photo-op proved he is willing to do what it takes to stroke the fractured ego of a president forced to cower in a bunker.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image