Comcast's Quest for World Dominance Hits Some Snags

Comcast is coming off a pretty tough week. First the dog ate its homework, then the quintet it was trying to impress was like “Talk to the hand, Comcast, because the FCC ain’t listening!”

OK. What really happened is this: Comcast didn’t give the FCC all of the material it needs to evaluate the company’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. There’s also continued squabbling about who gets to review this info — is it just the FCC, or do lawyers for the groups and companies fighting the deal get to participate in the process too? All of this prompted the agency to hit pause on its official review — putting it on hold until Comcast ponies up the necessary information.

And so a merger that some pundits once regarded as a sure thing is now in limbo. But the fight to stop it is far from over — which is why so many critics are taking off the gloves.

Last week a group of 37 prominent antitrust and economics experts fired off a letter to the FCC that details how this deal violates antitrust standards. The letter, in fact, makes some of the same arguments we at Free Press made in our official filing with the agency.

The big takeaway is this: The merger, as we’ve been saying for months, would obliterate broadband competition (such as it is) and make it even more difficult than it currently is for new players to enter the market. The letter even cites some of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s data in making this point.

Comcast is used to getting what it wants and is getting prickly about all this criticism; as New York Times media critic David Carr recently noted, the tone of Comcast’s official FCC filing was downright “ballistic.”

This is good: It means we’re making strides in our campaign to block the merger.

If you live in or around New York City, you can channel your own anti-Comcast sentiments at a speakout we’re holding in Brooklyn this evening. Sign up now for this free event because seats are going fast.