Forget AT&T/Time Warner: Comcast/NBCU Is Worse

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By the end of Tuesday, a judge’s ruling on whether AT&T should be allowed to merge with Time Warner will likely generate big headlines at every news organization in America.


Regardless of the case’s outcome, the American Cable Association believes “the level of competitive harm from programming price increases created by Comcast/NBCUniversal’s vertical combination of distribution and programming assets is significantly greater” than any harm a combined Time Warner and AT&T presents.

As such, today’s decision in the AT&T/Time Warner merger case that the Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to prove that the transaction causes harm “cannot be relied upon to infer that Comcast/NBCU does not cause significant harm,” ACA notes.

Furthermore, ACA argues, “to the extent that the Court finds that AT&T/Time Warner would cause harm, the case is clear that the DOJ, the FCC and state agencies need to address immediately the greater harm caused by Comcast/NBCUniversal.”

This is especially important, ACA contends, “because whereas AT&T/Time Warner unilaterally committed to abide by a binding arbitration agreement if the transaction is approved, Comcast/NBCUniversal will soon not be subject to any binding arbitration conditions.”

Therefore, ACA asks that the Justice Department and the FCC “seriously evaluate measures to limit the harm caused by Comcast-NBCUniversal’s existing market power. At a minimum, the agencies should not allow Comcast/NBCUniversal to further increase its control over programming assets through purchasing the programming assets of Fox.”

To illustrate its point, ACA offered a table with the number of subscribers share of total MVPD subscribers for the top MVPDs, using 2017 Kagan data as its source.

ACA then provided a table of DMAs served by an NBC O&O or regional sports network where Comcast is the primary incumbent cable provider:

 


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