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May 21, 2014

Congresswoman Requests Hearing Into Mergers of Comcast-Time Warner, AT&T-DirecTV

Knight Foundation image — U.S. Rep Doris O. Matsui, D-Calif, addresses America's Digital Inclusion Summit at The Newseum, in this March 2010 file photo.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui is calling for a Congressional hearing on the proposed mergers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable and AT&T and DirecTV.

The California representative is concerned the proposed consolidation of the pay-TV and broadband industries would negatively impact consumers’ wallets due to a decrease in competition.

“Like other major mergers, the proposed mergers between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and between AT&T and DirecTV could have real impacts on consumers and the marketplace,” she said in a press release.  “Ultimately, I believe that these companies need to demonstrate that these proposed mergers will not leave consumers with less choice and higher costs.

“The FCC is scrutinizing these mergers but there is a primary oversight role here for Congress as well.  That is why this morning I called for the Communications and Technology Subcommittee to hold a hearing on these proposed telecom mergers.  These are some of the largest mergers in our nation’s telecommunications history and Congress must exercise its oversight role to carefully examine their impact on a competitive marketplace.”

AT&T, America’s largest wireless carrier is hoping to acquire satellite provider DirecTV in a deal rumored to be worth in excess of $40 billion. If the merger does indeed take place, it would unite DirecTV’s 20 million or so TV subscribers with AT&T’s U-verse TV, the carrier’s TV, high-speed Internet, and digital home phone service which currently has about 5.7 million customers.

Comcast, meanwhile, is attempting to move ahead with its $45-billion acquisition of Time Warner. If the merger goes ahead, it would bring the two biggest cable companies in the U.S. under the same umbrella, meaning nearly half the country’s population would be getting its Internet via Comcast.

The company has said that bringing the two giants together would deliver to consumers “the next-generation of broadband Internet, video, voice, and related technologies,” improving the experience for customers.

Matsui is not the only one to express doubts about the mergers.

Sen. Al Franken has also voiced his doubts and has shot down Comcast’s assertions that the deal would be good for competition and would give users more options.

“Comcast can’t have it both ways,” Franken said after hearing the company’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

“It can’t say that the existence of competition among distributors, including Time Warner Cable, was a reason to approve the NBC deal in 2010 and then turn around a few years a later and say the absence of competition with Time Warner Cable is a reason to approve this deal.”


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.