In a letter addressed to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and Attorney General Eric Holder, six Senators are urging the blockage of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. The letter comes just one day before representatives from Comcast and Time Warner Cable are set to meet with DoJ antitrust officials in the hopes of saving a deal that appears to be on shaky ground.
"Should the transaction survive the FCC's and DOJ's reviews, we believe that Comcast-TWC's unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans – inhibiting US consumers' ability to fully benefit from modern technologies and American businesses' capacity to innovate and compete on a global scale," write Senators Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, Edward Markey, Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren, and Richard Blumenthal.
"Since the proposal was announced last year, we have heard from consumers across the nation, as well as from advocacy groups, trade associations, and companies of all sizes, all of whom fear that the deal would harm competition across several different markets and would not serve the public interest," says the letter.
"We've also heard from constituents in our home states who are rightfully frustrated about their increasingly high cable and Internet bills and are concerned that the proposed acquisition will only drive those prices higher. Unfortunately, with only a handful of cable and Internet providers dominating the market, consumers are often left with little choice but to pay the price a given provider demands and have little say over what content is made available to them."
If the merger were to go through, the Comcast-TWC behemoth would control 57% of the US broadband market and 30% of the cable market.
But it's far from a sure thing. In fact, recent reports have indicated that the Department of Justice is poised to recommend blocking the deal. Upon hearing that news, Comcast and Time Warner Cable rushed into action and are set to meet face-to-face with regulators for the first time since they proposed the deal. It is expected that Comcast will attempt to make concessions to satisfy regulators, some of whom are as wary as the Senators.
Comcast’s official line has always been that the deal is not anti-competitive.
“Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable will ensure that a responsible and committed steward delivers advanced video and high-speed data services and innovation to these customers. The proposed transaction is pro-consumer, pro-competitive, strongly in the public interest, and approvable,” says the company.
"We urge you to defend American competition and innovation and ensure the Americans have affordable access to high-quality telecommunications services. We hope you'll take a stand for US consumers and businesses and reject Comcast's proposed acquisition of TWC," say the Senators.