Trade Coalition Launches “Don’t Comcast the Internet” Campaign

Group representing 1,000-plus companies says Comcast-Time Warner merger would be bad for competition and innovation.

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While the FCC barrels toward a decision — finally! — on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger, opponents are still coming out of the woodwork

This week, a coalition of trade organizations representing 1,000 companies launched a “Don’t Comcast the Internet” campaign dedicated to opposing the merger. The effort looks a lot like the “Stop Mega Comcast” campaign we told you about a couple of weeks ago.

“The groups represent more than 1,000 companies, including Internet and mobile providers — such as Google Fiber, Sprint and T-Mobile — as well as content providers like Netflix,” The Hill reports. “The groups are arguing the proposed $45 billion merger would seriously harm competition and innovation in the market.”

Gigaom adds:

At an event in Washington to kick off the campaign, the group presented antitrust authorities who predicted that a combined Comcast-TWC would stifle would-be competitors. One way it could allegedly do so is by using its market power to pressure content partners to keep their content — which is the lifeblood of both TV and broadband — away from new entrants.

The group also warned of danger to another part of the internet, predicting that younger internet and content companies would struggle to obtain permission from Comcast-TWC to appear before subscribers in the first place.

Nick Grossman of venture capital firm Union Square Ventures said he worried that start-ups could find themselves asking “Will Comcast greenlight it?” as a pre-condition to launching their business on the internet.

GeekWire:

The site cites several incidents involving Comcast over the past several years, including degraded Netflix streaming quality, blocked regional sports programming, and alleged favoritism toward Comcast-owned NBC Universal news channels over Bloomberg TV.

The campaign, while mentioning Time Warner Cable, clearly focuses on Comcast, perhaps intending to leverage highly publicized customer service missteps made by the communications giant.

FierceCable has Comcast’s response:

“There’s no real news here–just another group of existing opponents making the same arguments they have already made at the FCC for months, many of which weren’t found to be credible in our past transaction reviews, and all of which we’ve refuted directly with evidence in the FCC record,” reads a Comcast statement. “The real facts remain the same: consumers don’t lose choice in the broadband or video markets.  Consumers will see real benefits in faster broadband speeds and better video products, and a host of other benefits. And there are no transaction-specific harms to this merger.”

Still, there’s a sense in the industry that Comcast has grown weary of all the battles it has fought over the merger.

“Concerns are mounting that the Federal Communications Commission or the Justice Department could block the merger outright or that the FCC could try to get major concessions out of Comcast to approve it,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “If it does the latter, some analysts think that Comcast might simply walk away.”

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