The Dish Network chairman made his plea on Monday in meetings with all five FCC commissioners and several staffers, according to a Dish filing today. Comcast’s $45B deal for Time Warner Cable “presents serious competitive concerns for the broadband and video marketplaces and therefore should be denied,” Dish told regulators, according to its account of the talks. “There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger.” Charlie Ergen said that Comcast could hobble Internet video services at three choke points: The cable company would control last-mile connection to the home and the point where content providers access Comcast’s network. In addition, it could squeeze potential rivals by devoting lots of its web capacity to special high-speed lanes for favored services. “Each choke point provides the ability for the combined company to foreclose the online video offerings of its competitors,” the filing says.
Ergen also says that the merger of the two largest cable operators would enable it to demand the best prices from programmers — forcing them to “extract even higher rates from smaller pay-TV providers like Dish in order to compensate the programmers for lost revenue.”
Dish did not appear to also want regulators to block AT&T’s $49B plan to buy DirecTV, even though that deal “presents competitive concerns.” The merger of the telco and No. 1 satellite TV provider “will also be able to combine their market power to leverage programming content, to the potential detriment of consumers,” the company says.
Comcast says that Dish “has long been one of our most vigorous competitors” and its opposition “stronger competitors isn’t surprising and it isn’t new. ” It adds that the satellite company’s concerns about video competition, including on the Web, “are already amply covered by pre-existing FCC rules and [NBCUniversal] deal conditions.”