Urging the FCC to “put a stop to this spate of merger madness,” the WGA West has submitted formal opposition to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. “We have reached a critical juncture in the history of the media, broadband and telecommunications industries,” said WGAW President Chris Keyser, who said that the continued mergers of giant media companies threaten “every principle of free market economics we deem important and jeopardizes the tremendous potential that the digital age has to offer all of us.” (Read the full petition to deny here.)
In February, the guild’s East and West coast factions spoke out in separate sternly worded statements against the proposed merger, a $45 billion deal that would combine the two largest cable companies in the United States. The guild also raised similar concerns four years ago in their opposition to the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal.
Joining the WGA in its opposition to the merger is the Future of Music Coalition, a national nonprofit education, research and advocacy group.
Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable, which must still be approved by the FCC, “will magnify the harms that have occurred in the last three years and will hinder the development of a diverse and competitive media market,” the guild said today in a statement. “The guild and the Coalition assert that because the deal would grant an unprecedented amount of power to a single entity, harm consumers and create a serious threat to competition in the video and broadband marketplaces, it does not meet the FCC’s criteria for serving the public interest.
“The specter of a Comcast-TWC merger has already triggered attempts at additional consolidation in the video distribution market and in the upstream content market,” the guild said. “The proposed merger of AT&T and DirecTV and the recent failed attempt of 21st Century Fox to acquire Time Warner demonstrate competitors’ responses to the prospect of an outsized Comcast. But most troubling, from the perspective of WGAW and FMC, will be Comcast’s control over both the cable and broadband distribution markets, because the Internet has created important space for new content competition. Comcast, as the dominant Internet service provider, will have the power to control the development of this market. This merger and any future consolidation will only further diminish competition, reduce the number of diverse information sources available, limit consumer choice and result in higher prices. The best course of action to protect the public interest is to deny the merger application.”