New Orleans Simple fact: the Justice department cannot allow Comcast to buy Times-Warner cable operations. No way, no how! In fact given the level of untrammeled, anti-competitive monopoly already rampant in the cable industry, which is directly responsible for both widening the internet divide and slowing down internet speeds to globally uncompetitive and exorbitantly expensive levels, possibly no existing cable company should be allowed to purchase Times-Warner’s cable operations, which are second only to Comcast in size. Comcast with 22million subscribers has 20% of the country now. Times-Warner with 15 million has almost 14%, so together they would control pricing in over one-third of the country.
What am I talking about? A front page headline blared from the Wall Street Journal as the reporters were almost licking their lips at the excitement of a big billion dollar sale of Times-Warner’s cable operations. They included in their fawning piece, two really scary spins from financial and legal hucksters. One was the speculation that there wasn’t really competition between Comcast and Times-Warner because they had carved up different geographical markets, as if these aren’t national, FCC enabled monopolies. The other was the conjecture that if Comcast made a bid it could succeed by agreeing to similar restrictions from the regulators as it did when it bought NBC/Universal, much of which, especially concerning access to lower income families, it has miserably failed to deliver.
Complaints that we filed in Texas, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania have already added an extension of one year to the FCC order that Comcast maintain its $9.99 cable plan, and we have filed new complaints that they are still not doing what was ordered or promised yet. This commitment should be made permanent by the FCC if it were anything other than codependent in widening the digital divide.
With American Airlines and US Air, for a minute it seemed that the Justice Department was once again going to take seriously its responsibilities to enforce anti-trust laws. This cable consolidation is even more important and affects even more people. It’s time for Justice to actually deliver real justice for all this time.