WASHINGTON – Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) opened a hearing on Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable by questioning how consumers will be impacted by the combination of the two largest cable companies in the industry.
“Consumers,” he said, don’t want complex explanations.
“They just want to know why their cable bills keep going up, they want to know why they do not have more choice of providers. Consumers are trying to find out whether or how this merger is good for them. I want to find out the same things,” Leahy said.
He also said Comcast’s recent deal with Netflix “raises important questions for advocates of net neutrality.”
“When (internet service providers) can charge tolls or block access to their networks, net neutrality policies alone may no longer be enough to protect consumers and promote an open internet,” Leahy said.
Later, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), asked “what will happen to the next Netflix that today is just a dream in a garage?”
The top Republican on the committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) expressed similar concerns as Leahy.
“They control the cable lines that go directly into the people’s homes, so there’s a lot of interest in what will happen if the two companies merge… I have the same interests that chairman Leahy expressed,” Grassley said in his opening statement.
Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen has argued that the deal will spur innovation and better service for many customers and that consumers will see economic benefits.