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Comcast Says TWC Merger Petitioners Are Extortionists

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Comcast is still pushing forward with its plan to buy Time Warner Cable, and on Wednesday the company submitted an official 337-page response to the more than 500 comments filed to the FCC regarding the merger. In it, Comcast paints petitioners of its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable as extortionists who are opposing the deal because Comcast hasn’t given in to certain demands.

Comcast suggests that any claims the deal will create a monopoly or enable bottlenecks and chokepoints on the Internet are “unfounded today as they were when the Commission rightly and repeatedly rejected them in prior decades.” The company argues that that companies such as Netflix, Dish, Cogent, Discovery, Viamedia and others are fighting against the merger because “Comcast refused to grant various self-interested requests that were made directly to Comcast soon after the Transaction was announced – almost always with an express or at least implicit offer to support the Transaction if the requester’s demands were met.”

In other words, Comcast is saying that some firms promised to support the transaction if Comcast tossed those companies a few favors. Since it didn’t, Comcast thinks those firms are now out to break the deal down. Those initial demands, it says, would have cost Comcast more than $5 billion “above any reasonable estimate of what its programming costs might be over the next several years,” and that, as a result, the company would have had to increase customer bills by $4 each month during the next five years.

“The significance of this extortion lies in not just the sheer audacity of some of the demands, but also the fact that each of the entities making the “ask” has all but conceded that if its individual business interests are met, then it has no concern whatsoever about the state of the industry, supposed market power going forward, or harm to consumers, competitors, or new entrants,” Comcast said.

The company specifically calls out Netflix and says that the online streaming company purposefully sent its traffic “on routes that could not support it,”and that Netflix is attempting to “gain additional commercial advantages over Comcast through a regulatory condition that is unjustified. It says Dish’s accusations of chokepoints and fast lanes are purely speculation and “theoretical.” Discovery, Comcast says, is “improperly using this proceeding to promote its own financial interests and that Viamedia is trying to “advance its own business interests,” by opposing Comcast’s merger plans.

Comcast argues that most of the petitions aren’t “factually supported” and that a majority are “being addressed in other industry-wide or state-specific proceedings and, therefore, are irrelevant to the Commission’s analysis here.” Comcast’s letter closes by reiterating the company’s belief that its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and the licenses that will come with it, is in the best interest of the public and is a necessity.

Comcast Re/code

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...


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