Comcast, Time Warner Start Merger Push Today

FCC filing today, Senate hearing on Wednesday.

The LA Times reports that Comcast and Time Warner begin their merger effort in earnest today:

Comcast will probably file its public interest statement with the FCC on Tuesday. That statement is essentially the company’s argument for why the Time Warner Cable acquisition wouldn’t harm the public and should be approved.

Cohen, along with Time Warner Cable Chief Financial Officer Artie Minson, will appear before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Also set to appear is Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department lawyer and current chief executive of Public Knowledge, a consumer group that has raised concerns about the combination.

Comcast executives have said they expect the deal to be approved by the FCC and the Justice Department.

 The Inquirer reports that Comcast’s biggest rivals are staying out of it, for now:

Six witnesses – among them the chief executive of an independent golf channel, a company that offers WiFi services, a consumer advocate, and a University of Pennsylvania law professor – are scheduled to testify Wednesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Comcast Corp.’s proposed $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc.

Absent from the list released Monday were top executives of the Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc., Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., or other Hollywood content companies, who could testify to the buying power of the combined Comcast/Time Warner Cable.

The merger, however, is taking a number of shots from the political right:

Comcast, America’s largest cable provider, will own roughly one-third of the U.S. cable and satellite television market with its impending purchase of Time Warner, a merger that will likely be approved by the FCC because of the company’s colossal donations to the Democratic Party, according to the National Review.

The company has also made in-kind donations that are more difficult to quantify. NBC networks owned by Comcast, and MSNBC in particular, for example, are “almost entirely devoted to furthering the president’s agenda and the broader priorities of the American progressive movement,” the Review says.

“It is something of a political irony that Republicans, who for ideological reasons are pro-business, have not raised questions about, or objections to, the conjoining of two Democratic institutions into a media trust,” the Review said. “If Republicans had any sense, they would wage war against Comcast and its Democratic enablers and turn the merger into a live issue.”