Free Press to FCC: Don’t Rubber-Stamp the Comcast Merger

Contact Info: 

Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

WASHINGTON -- According to press reports, the Federal Communications Commission is poised to approve the pending Comcast-NBC merger with conditions. A draft order circulated today must now be modified and approved by a majority of the five commissioners. The merger, which Free Press opposes, would give the nation’s largest cable company and residential broadband provider massive media power and the ability to restrict its competitors’ access to both Comcast and NBC content.

Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright made the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed that the FCC is apparently moving to approve this merger. Comcast’s takeover of NBC would have a harmful impact on competition and consumers, particularly in the emerging online video market. The conditions reportedly proposed by the FCC chairman recognize this danger, but we have serious concerns that they will go far enough to protect the public from this unprecedented media behemoth.

“It is not sufficient for the FCC’s conditions to merely preserve the status quo. Under the merger review standard of the Communications Act, the FCC may only approve a merger that affirmatively promotes the public interest goals of localism, diversity and competition. The devil will be in the details, but we remain skeptical as to whether the proposed conditions would go far enough to fulfill this public interest requirement.

“If this merger is approved, it will profoundly transform our media system. Comcast-NBC will control one in five television viewing hours, and it will have a stake in 125 cable channels, film studios, websites and other properties. Consumers are the ones who will be paying the price through higher bills and fewer choices, and they deserve a full and thorough review of the impact of this merger. We don’t need another massive giveaway to big media that leaves consumers high and dry.

“Comcast may be rushing to get this deal done as quickly as possible, but the FCC should put down its rubber stamp and be sure they have reviewed all the evidence and reflected on the long-term impacts of more media consolidation. This is clearly too much media power resting in the hands of one company, and the five commissioners of the FCC have the duty to protect the public, promote competition for consumers, and preserve the free and open Internet. Weak, short-lived conditions won’t do that.”

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good