On August 25, 2014, Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Future of Music Coalition (FMC) submitted formal opposition to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to deny the transaction. In 2010, both WGAW and FMC raised concerns about the vertical integration between Comcast and NBC Universal. Both organizations urged the FCC to adopt strong conditions to protect content creators, consumers and competition. But, in the three years following the merger, Comcast has used its market power to harm content competitors on both traditional and online content platforms.
The proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable (“Applicants”) and the
subsequent divestiture transactions between Applicants, Charter Corporation and SpinCo are not
in the public interest. The merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable will enhance the market
power of Applicants as cable television and online content distributors. The lack of sufficient
competition in both multichannel video programming distributor (“MVPD”) and Internet service
provider (“ISP”) markets coupled with Applicants’ dominant market share in both content
distribution platforms will have significant anticompetitive effects. Increased distribution power,
combined with vertical integration into video programming, enhances Applicants’ incentive to
engage in practices that harm upstream content markets.
While Applicants may not compete directly in local markets, they are competitors in the
market for video programming and this merger eliminates a key market participant. The
increased concentration resulting from this merger will occur in a market where evidence
provided by Applicants suggests that Comcast already has market power as a buyer, and this
merger will enhance such power. With increased ability and incentive, Applicants will have the
power to negotiate affiliate and retransmission fees below competitive market rates, which will
harm investment in programming, reduce video competition and limit consumer choice.
Applicants will also have the ability to use their power as distributors to harm unaffiliated
networks that compete with NBC Universal (“NBCU”) networks, through such methods as
channel placement or temporary or permanent vertical foreclosure from Applicants’ cable
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