NYC Mayor Blasts Comcast Merger

Doesn't oppose outright, but registers list of concerns.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

We already knew New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was not going to let Comcast’s merger with Time Warner happen easily. But now he’s becoming increasingly vocal about his concerns in a way that could be a very big deal for the proposal.

The Hill reports:

The mayor sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler last week warning that the cable merger would have “far-reaching impacts” on his city and the rest of the nation.

For one, the deal could lead to higher prices and worse service from the company, since it will have no major competitors to fear, he said. “This is alarming given both Comcast’s and Time Warner Cable’s already poor customer satisfaction ratings,” de Blasio warned.

Broadcasting & Cable adds:

He stopped short of asking the FCC to nix the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, but New York Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined a laundry list of concerns about the deal and “threats” represented by the deal in a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler dated Oct. 29.

Among his concerns are 1) quality and affordability of business service and the possibility of a merged company would be less responsive to customer concerns; 2) the potential threat to network neutrality and innovation given what they estimate will be the 40% of broadband subs the combined company would control; and 3) Comcast/TWC’s potential increased influence over the cable advertising market via national cable ad buyer National Cable Communications. “This extreme degree of consolidation threatens to make it more difficult and expensive for area businesses to secure local advertising opportunities that are essential to their success,” he said.

International Business Times explains why this matters:

In raising concerns about the merger, de Blasio is breaking with mayors of other large U.S. cities. In particular, Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Comcast’s hometown, has pledged his unambiguous support. Ditto for Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. (Political campaigns and committees controlled by Emanuel have received more than $100,000 in contributions from Comcast and its employees, as International Business Times reported in September.)

The merger, if approved by regulators, would combine the country’s No. 1 and No. 2 cable companies into a colossus that would control more than one third of the country’s pay-TV market. De Blasio’s approval is seen as crucial given New York’s prominence as a global city, hub of the U.S. media and home to Time Warner Cable’s headquarters.