Justice Department’s Review of the Proposed Comcast/NBC Merger Is Welcome News

Contact Info: 

Liz Rose, Communications Director, 202-265-1490 x 32

WASHINGTON -- Josh Silver, the executive director of the media reform group Free Press, commented on the news that the U.S. Department of Justice is slated to review the proposed merger between cable giant Comcast and NBC Universal:

"We are glad to see the review of Comcast/NBC is moving forward," Silver said. "A Comcast/NBC merger would create a media behemoth with too much power in too few hands.

"It is a good sign that the Justice Department was given the green light for the review. The DOJ’s antitrust division now has a chance to make a clean break from the inactivity of recent years and tackle this merger with the urgency it deserves."

Silver said that Free Press is optimistic that the DOJ will take a hard look at this proposed merger in part because Christine Varney, the head of the antitrust division, took an aggressive position on the review of vertical mergers during her tenure at the Federal Trade Commission, particularly those in high-tech and innovation-focused industries. In a 1995 speech, Ms. Varney said, "[V]ertical acquisitions can be anticompetitive. Vertical mergers can create or raise entry barriers that lead to higher prices or lower quality or innovation for consumers.... Vertical mergers can, in certain instances, increase those barriers to entry even more, raising costs and reducing innovation and quality for consumers." (Quote from a 1995 speech available at http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/varney/varta.shtm)

Free Press has led opposition to the Comcast/NBC merger, and thousands of Americans have joined the call at www.stopbigmedia.com for the merger to be blocked by regulators.

Fast facts on the proposed Comcast/NBC merger include:

  • Comcast is the country's largest cable TV operator. It serves customers in 39 states and the District of Columbia and reaches nearly 24 million homes in the United States that subscribe to cable.

  • NBC owns movie studios, broadcast networks, cable networks, a huge stake in the online video service, Hulu, as well as 27 local broadcast stations that reach nearly one-third of U.S. households.

  • Comcast, the largest residential broadband Internet service provider in the country, would acquire a significant portion of Hulu.

  • In Washington, D.C., nearly a quarter of all the channels in the basic cable lineup would be controlled by Comcast/NBC.

  • Cable rates for all customers nationwide will increase when Comcast starts charging its competitors more for NBC programs.


Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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