WASHINGTON – On Monday, Free Press, Media Access Project, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America filed a “petition to deny” with the Federal Communications Commission, calling on the agency to reject Comcast’s proposed acquisition of NBC Universal.
“The anti-competitive impact of this merger runs wide and deep. The result would be higher prices, fewer choices and diminished media diversity,” said Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright. “Approval would allow Comcast to own a huge array of popular programs and enable it to exert undue influence over the distribution of those programs on the airwaves, cable and the Internet.”
“While some groups have suggested that the deal can be approved subject to certain conditions, the harms of this merger are so great that the Commission must deny the merger outright,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior vice president and policy director of Media Access Project.
Post merger, Comcast-NBCU would control one in five television viewing hours in Comcast markets.
The filing makes clear that the merger is a bad deal for consumers. If the government allows the merger to go through, Comcast will raise prices, foreclose and block competitive entry, force unwanted program “bundles” on other cable and DBS systems, and discriminate against competing programmers seeking carriage.
The filing details how a merged company would have vastly increased ability to choke off online video competition before it gets off the ground. Comcast-NBCU could withhold NBC content from competing with NBC-owned Hulu and Comcast’s own online video service.
NBCU’s large stable of video content, if combined with Comcast’s cable systems, would enable the combined company to wield awesome power to withhold content, raise costs for competing video providers and force competitors to carry less desirable Comcast/NBCU networks.