Watchdog wants to shred Comcast/NBC


Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver is calling for out-of-hand rejection of the prospective merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, saying it would combine three major distribution platforms, as well as numerous other assets, and concentrate too much power in the hands of one company. He made his remarks in an essay published at Huffington Post.

“This train wreck of a deal will hurt all over,” he wrote. “It will mean increased costs for cable television service; currently free online NBC content locked behind a pay wall; less opportunity for the distribution of independent media; even fewer choices and less programming diversity. On average, nearly one quarter of all channels offered to cable subscribers will be owned by the bloated Comcast.”

Silver said his major concern was that past precedent would hold and other giant media companies would look to join forces to keep up, setting off a surge in M&A activity that will leave even less diversity in its wake than exists now.

“Perhaps the most dangerous risk of this deal — and one we have seen many times in years past — is that it will trigger a ‘merger wave’ throughout the industry as distribution companies and content companies seek to ‘muscle up’ to match the new threat that the vertically integrated Comcast poses. Consumer choice will be restricted and prices will rise. With diminishing competition, the likelihood of similar behavior by other companies grows stronger, as does the threat of collusion among competitors.”