Comcastrophe! Watchdog vows to fight on after deal approval


Free Press says, “There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Wherever you live, the Comcast-NBC merger is a disaster.” The media watchdog is already organizing supporters, asking them to immediately voice their displeasure with government officials, asking them to become a “local Comcast watchdog,” and using the occasion to raise funds to carry on the fight.

Josh Silver, President/CEO of Free Press, said, “Letting one company control the pipes and the content that flows over those pipes is a formula for abuse. Comcast-NBC could soon hike up rates, take away your favorite channels or even stop you from watching your favorite shows online. Comcast has already targeted Netflix and other companies that compete with its video and Internet offerings.”

Silver also attacked the Obama administration for caving in to corporate interests, in contravention of promises made during the 2008 campaign.

He said consumers should be concerned about this whether or not they are currently Comcast subscribers, noting that there will be a ripple effect on the entire industry – possibly caused by increased payment demands for NBCU content and higher internet service rates. And he expected other companies will soon be traveling down the trail Comcast and NBCU have just finished blazing. “You might be saying, ‘Why should I care about a business deal between two giant companies?” But this merger is certain to be the first domino to fall in a series of mega-media mergers. The FCC’s blessing of Comcast-NBC will embolden companies like AT&T or Verizon to try to gobble up content providers like Disney and CBS, creating a new era of media consolidation where even fewer companies control the content you watch and all the ways you watch it.”

Here are the actions Silver is asking supporters to take:

“1. First, let Washington know that there are consequences to blessing this bad deal. You can tell everyone that this merger is a disaster by Tweeting about it, spreading the word via Facebook, and sharing this e-mail with others.

“2. Next, join our national network of local Comcast watchdogs. Sign this pledge to protect your community against future Comcast abuses, and we’ll connect you to a growing network of activists in your area and beyond.

“3. Finally, support the Free Press Action Fund so we can mobilize a broad coalition to stem the tide of new media mergers sure to follow in the wake of Comcast-NBC.”

RBR-TVBR observation: One of Free Press’s objectives is to try to head off what it considers to be an inevitable wave of me-too agreements between Comcast/NBCU competitors. That could be an even bigger challenge than heading off this joint venture proved to be, since it provides a precedent that could grease the wheels for other proposed transactions.