Coalition wants more Hill testimony on Comcast/NBCU merger


The Coalition for Competition in Media says that since Congress last convened hearings to discuss the proposed merger of Comcast and NBCU, new studies have been produced and opponents to the merger have weighed in with petitions to deny. The Coalition says it warrants another round of hearings.

In letters to key legislators, the Coalition asked them to “bear in mind that whatever actions are taken by regulators in this merger will set the benchmark for future industry consolidation. Critical consumer protection conditions that are not applied in this merger will be difficult to impose on similar mergers in the future, even if the harms that have been predicted do come to pass.”

“Several major entities have filed ‘petitions to deny’ at the FCC,” the letter continued, “and a number of new economic analyses have been conducted. The recent emergence of new opposition and the new, in-depth analysis that they have brought forward adds multiple new dimensions to the discussion.”

The Coalition concluded, “An additional hearing, therefore, would be of tremendous value in ensuring that these numerous issues have been fully reviewed in a public forum, with Members of Congress afforded every opportunity to ask the challenging questions that are surely warranted.”

Comcast responded, in opposition to spending any more time on Capitol Hill. According to the Hill, a Comcast spokesperson said, “There have already been an unprecedented number of public hearings on this transaction, six Congressional hearings, an FCC public forum, and one of the longest public comment periods in Commission history. Most of these opponents have opposed the transaction since the day it was announced over nine months ago and are only seeking to further delay the review process. Congress, the FCC and DOJ should reject the delaying tactics of this group driven by a few special business interests, and the review process should continue without interruption. We continue to believe this transaction will close by year-end.”

Letters from the Coalition went out to legislators at key committee and subcommittee posts, including the Democratic chairs and Republican ranking members. At the House Energy and Commerce Committee, they went to Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Joe Barton (R-TX).

At that committee’s Communications, Technology and the Internet subcommittee, they went to Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

At the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, they went to John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

Finally, at that committee’s Communications, Technology and the Internet subcommittee, they went to John Kerry (D-MA) and John Ensign (R-NV).