Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) did not have all of her questions about the proposed Comcast/NBCU merger answered at the recent House Judiciary Committee field hearing in Los Angeles, and is calling for continued scrutiny of the transaction.
Waters is concerned about the impact the merger might have on media diversity, competition and consumers. “Assessing how committed Comcast and NBC are to diversity goes beyond examining their contributions, donations or community service projects to aid nonprofit, community and church groups,” she said. “While those initiatives are important, today’s hearing was about understanding how diversity, programming, management, ownership and consumer prices could be impacted by a merger of this size. In addition, we must evaluate whether the merger of the nation’s largest cable and internet company with one of the nation’s major network news and content providers is anticompetitive, unfairly dominating the market and thereby squeezing out alternative outlets for diverse voices and cultures.”
The FCC has scheduled a field hearing of its own, in Chicago 7/13/10, but Waters wants more than that – and she also wants to hear directly from Comcast. “The field hearing was important, and the testimony was informative, but many questions still must be answered, especially by Comcast, which chose not to testify,” said Waters. “That is why additional Congressional and formal FCC public hearings in DC and around the country are imperative: American consumers need to have all their questions answered as we prepare for one of the largest media mergers in this country’s history. I want to thank Chairman Conyers for holding this hearing in Los Angeles, and also to thank my colleagues and the panelists for their participation as well. More events like this are necessary so that we all understand the merger’s impact on diversity and consumer costs.”