Over the past few days, supporters and detractors of the summer’s big cable deal have been filing their thoughts with the FCC, and the second category has been rather more vocal. Charter announced plans to purchase TWC in May, a few months after Comcast’s effort to do the same was squelched by regulatory opposition.
Consumer advocates like the Free Press, Public Knowledge, Common Cause, and Open MIC have all come out against the deal. The reasons are pretty much the same as they had for Comcast (too big, too much leverage), but a little less shrill this time.
Dish Network doesn’t like it much either, although it’s hard to imagine Dish liking any cable merger at all. They argue that it’s pretty much the same as the Comcast deal, and provided lots of quotes to demonstrate that the motivation behind the deal is the same, if smaller. Not much question about that, I’d say.
Yesterday it was AT&T’s turn. They don’t actually oppose the merger, but they took the opportunity to explain why it is a bad idea anyway. Cable companies should compete against each other directly more rather than defend their geographically distinct monopolistic territories and consolidate as far as regulators will let them. You know, just like the baby bells always did. Oh wait…
On the pro side are all sorts of non-profits and chambers of commerce and townships and such that Charter has mustered through its web of relationships. More investment, more jobs, more access in their region, what’s not to like?
And yet, it’s all a choreographed dance and has a very different flavor than with Comcast, where the weight of opinion actually seemed to matter. It’s as if everyone knows that this one will go through unless something unexpected happens, because Charter isn’t big enough to scare enough people. It’s just that everyone gets to make their point first, and lobbyists have to put food on the table too.
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