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The Fate of Net Neutrality Hinges on the House

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Derek oversees Free Press’ research and policy analysis. He has written extensively on a wide range of media and technology issues, and regularly testifies before Congress and the FCC. His reports have examined consolidation in the broadcast television industry, the economics of the pay-TV market, the state of domestic broadband competition, the role of the Universal Service Fund and the lack of female and minority media ownership. Derek holds a master's degree in public policy from the Goldman School at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received the 2006 Smolensky Prize for Outstanding Advanced Policy Analysis. He is the lead author of the book Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age.

Expert Analysis

  • Insights & Opinions
    Internet Access
    Media Consolidation

    The T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Is Bad News. Here's Why.

    May 1, 2018

    This deal would harm people of color and all communities and constituencies that rely on having more affordable and open wireless options.

  • Insights & Opinions
    Internet Access
    Net Neutrality
    Media Consolidation

    Don't Fall for AT&T's Billion-Dollar Swindle

    November 14, 2017

    AT&T is trying to sucker Congress into giving it a mammoth tax break that would cost the rest of us.

  • Insights & Opinions
    Net Neutrality

    Reclassification Is Not a Dirty Word

    January 17, 2014

    In the wake of the court ruling killing Net Neutrality, it's time we got serious about protecting the open internet for good. And that means reclassification.

  • Insights & Opinions
    Media Consolidation

    Broadcast, Broadband and Bundle Bloat

    May 31, 2013

    Programmers like Viacom force cable companies like Cablevision to carry channels they don’t want—and the impact hits customers’ wallets.

News

  • Cable giant Comcast has launched a hostile bid for 21st Century Fox, the media empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

  • WASHINGTON — Comcast has offered $65 billion in cash to acquire 21st Century Fox, the television, film and entertainment colossus that Walt Disney Co. is also seeking to acquire.

    If successful, the $80-billion merger ($65 billion in cash, plus Fox’s $15 billion in debt) would add considerable content properties to a company that already owns NBC Universal. Yesterday’s court decision approving AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner is reported to have been the trigger for Comcast’s announcement today.

    Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:

    “Comcast thinks the time is ripe for deal-making, but the public will quickly sour on this proposal. We simply don't need the country's biggest cable company and broadband provider controlling even more content and taking even more of our money every month.

    “This merger will further strengthen Comcast’s hand, making it far more difficult for rivals to compete. And now that Comcast is free from all federal Net Neutrality obligations, there is literally nothing stopping it from using this power to favor its own online content and services over others, taking choice away from internet users and creating an internet that closely resembles cable TV. It’s dangerous to have too much media content under the same roof as a nationwide video-distribution platform like Comcast.

    “Comcast thinks the AT&T deal should give them the green light here for more expansion. But, as AT&T’s top lawyer said after yesterday’s verdict, each merger should be evaluated on its own, and the specific facts matter.

    “The Comcast-Fox deal is also a vertical deal, but very different from AT&T. Comcast is already a major studio owner and content owner, and will grow much more with this deal. Further, Comcast already holds a stake in Hulu and will become the majority owner if this deal is approved. This is a competition killer.

    “If approved, the 21st Century Fox takeover would saddle Comcast with a whopping debt load. There’s every reason to believe that internet and pay-TV rate hikes would follow this deal, as Comcast exploits its dominant position to gouge its competitors and customers alike.

    “It’s time we started to talk about what a rip-off mega-deals like AT&T-Time Warner and Comcast-Fox are. For the price of these two completely self-serving deals, which will only benefit the uber-wealthy shareholders, we could deploy fiber optic broadband to every U.S. home. Instead, we get higher bills, lousy service and fewer choices. What a waste.”

  • A new TV standard will soon result in better picture and sound quality. But critics worry that the standards-creation process isn’t taking consumer privacy seriously.

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From the Policy Library