Originally published: August 25, 2014
Last updated: August 25, 2014 - 6:15pm
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) submitted formal opposition to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to deny the transaction.
Since acquiring NBC Universal, Comcast has used its market power to harm content competitors on both traditional and online content platforms. The proposed acquisition of TWC, even with nominal divestitures to Charter and Spinco, will magnify the harms that have occurred in the last three years and will hinder the development of a diverse and competitive media market.
The Guild and the Coalition assert that because the deal would grant an unprecedented amount of power to a single entity, harm consumers and create a serious threat to competition in the video and broadband marketplaces, it does not meet the FCC’s criteria for serving the public interest. The petition of WGAW and FMC relies on analysis conducted by economist and Professor of Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dr. William S. Comanor, which finds that the proposed transaction will result in a highly concentrated market among video programming buyers that are suitable competitors to Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
Under merger guidelines used by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, such concentration presumes an increase in market power, and supports the request from the Guild and FMC to deny the merger. Post-merger, Comcast will have enhanced market power to negotiate affiliate and retransmission fees below competitive market rates (an expression of Comcast’s monopsony power), which will harm investment in programming, reduce video competition and limit consumer choice. In addition, Comcast has already demonstrated a poor track record of abiding by conditions set by the FCC’s NBCU Order and should not be given the opportunity to engage in further violations on an even larger scale.