Is Comcast a Monopoly?
Enough with the commentary. On with the headlines!
• Comcast-TWC Would Be a Monopoly, But That Probably Won’t Stop It (Gizmodo) “Monopolies aren’t like porn; you can’t just know one when you see it. There is actually a spectrum of competition—ranging from perfect competition to complete monopoly—that each market fits into. But in general terms, a monopoly happens when a single seller controls the market, and there are no alternatives for the seller’s product. They’re also formed when one or more barriers to entry into the market prevent other companies from competing with the reigning champ. Stop me when this sounds familiar.”
• Pingree starts Comcast/Time Warner merger petition (Mainebiz) Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is leading a national effort against the proposed merger of cable and Internet giants Comcast and Time Warner with a petition asking the U.S. Attorney General to block the deal. The Portland Press Herald reported Pingree says the merger is likely to reduce competition among cable TV and Internet providers, and consolidate bargaining power that could undermine companies like Hulu or Netflix
• Scrutiny sought for Comcast-Netflix deal (Philly Mag): “The Los Angeles Times reports that the Consumers Union is asking for government scrutiny of the Comcast-Netflix deal that will allow the video streaming service to stream uninterrupted to the cable giant’s Internet customers.”
• Ignore Paranoid Bloggers: The Comcast-Time Warner Merger Is Good For Consumers (Forbes) “There’s one final way that broadband populists like Crawford get it wrong. For them big is bad and big business is the worst. But economists have found that there are significant scale economies in the provision of broadband services. Arecent study from the Canadian government found that economies of scale were responsible for 30 to 40 percent of productivity growth in the telecommunications sector from 1984 to 2008. The increasing returns to scale in the communications industry is a key reason why this deal is good for the economy and consumers.”
• The Comcast-Netflix Deal May Not Be a Bad Thing After All (Wired) The saving grace may be the threat of government regulation. Comcast is extremely large. It has a poor reputation for customer service. And it’s the kind of company that people love to hate. But if it starts playing games with media companies and treating them unfairly, the hatred will escalate. And that could lead to government regulation. Right now, this isn’t what Comcast wants, and it not what other ISPs like Verizon and AT&T want.
“I think this will be a self-regulating thing,” says Jeff Lawrence, whose company, PlayOn, makes software that links streaming video on personal computers to TV devices such as the Roku. “Comcast and Verizon know that if they start playing those games, they’re going to push the voices to be louder to create legislation.”
• White House Aide at Soiree Shows Comcast Reach for Deals (Businessweek) Companies often want their lobbyists to hobnob with Washington lawmakers and regulators. Comcast has taken that to new levels in recent years, increasing lobbying expenditures by 23 times over 2001 levels, to $18.8 million last year — behind only Northrop Grumman Corp. in spending by a single company.
Comcast has a new target for its lobbying: regulatory approval for a $45.2 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc.
“They are ubiquitous,” said Gene Kimmelman, the Justice Department’s former chief competition counsel. “They really have everything covered at the highest levels of skill and experience.”