Guess who is raising concerns about the Comcast-Time Warner merger? Glenn Beck!
This isn’t an ideological thing: It’s a business concern. Beck’s independent TV network—The Blaze—is worried about its ability to gain access to a post-merger uber-huge Comcast, Politico reports.
TheBlaze’s CEO Chris Balfe said in a statement the network is “skeptical” the deal would benefit customers. Comcast and Time Warner Cable may feel they are big enough to ignore their customers demands, but TheBlaze is going to continue its campaign to push for their inclusion onto channel lineups and will ultimately succeed, Balfe said.
“Since launching the GetTheBlaze campaign, 50 small, midsized and major cable systems have begun carrying our network. These are the cable systems that must be responsive to their customers to survive. Monopoly type [multichannel video programming distributors] like Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not have a good history of listening to customers or supporting independent programmers whose content is in demand like TheBlaze,” he said in a statement to POLITICO.
“While we are skeptical that giving Comcast even more market power will benefit consumers, promote competition or lead to more diversity of voices, we will continue our successful campaign because eventually, even giants have to listen to what their customers want,” he added.
Beck said he’s not for interfering in the marketplace, generally, but maybe this one time…
“I don’t think there’s a problem with calling up Comcast now and saying, ‘Hey, I hear you guys are going up in front of congressional hearings because you don’t listen to your people And there’s really no balance. Have you guys thought about carrying TheBlaze?’” he told his radio listeners. “I just think that it would be an opportunity to remind them.”
Beck might find an unlikely ally in his efforts: Huffington Post reports the Writers Guild of America is pressuring MSNBC’s liberal hosts to speak against the merger.
Writers and producers with the Writers Guild of America-East at Peacock Productions — which is owned by NBC Universal — are petitioning Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz and Chris Hayes to speak out against the impending merger. In December, workers accused NBC Universal and Comcast, its parent company, of union busting. The Wrap reported Thursday that they are now concerned that Comcast’s deal with Time Warner Cable could lead to even more anti-union behavior.
Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck fighting on the same side? Apparently Comcast brings us all together!
• Despite such opposition, there’s one reason not to bet against the merger: Comcast has plenty of muscle in D.C.
Mostly, the article focuses on Comcast’s charitable giving as a possible means of building muscle. The Times article includes a chart showing that 54 organizations which expressed support for the company’s merger with NBC-Universal had received a donation from Comcast’s charitable foundation in the preceding years. Comcast Vice President David L. Cohen didn’t like the implication.
“People would like to take this 20-plus-year-old incredible commitment to communities and these organizations and would like to make it a bad thing — that we are buying off support for the transaction,” Mr. Cohen said in an interview, referring to the Comcast Foundation’s $140 million in grants since its inception and more than $3.2 billion since 2001 when all kinds of corporate support (cash and in-kind support like free public service announcements) are included. “That is simply not true. And I believe it is offensive to the organizations we support.”
Other Comcastic headlines this morning.
• DirectTV opposes the merger, the Wall Street Journal reports. “ Chief Executive Mike White came out swinging against the pending Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, arguing it would create “unprecedented media concentration in one company.”
• Add the Rev. Jesse Jackson to the opponents, the Washington Informer reports: “Media consolidation can have a troubling effect on entrepreneurs and consumers of color because it can reduce the unique representation of diverse voices and minimize business opportunities for women and people of color,” he said Wednesday. “With the troubling state of minority media ownership today and the lingering impact of economic decline for communities of color, the merger can either contribute to the steady decline of African-American wealth or be part of the nation’s course for economic recovery.”
• Reuters reports Comcast will file its papers on the deal with federal regulators in March.