Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Another 'no' on a merger

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Comcast Corp.'s purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. "presents serious competitive concerns" and should be denied, Dish Network Corp. told U.S. regulators.

"There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger," Jeffrey Blum, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for the company said in a filing Wednesday with the Federal Communications Commission. Company executives, including Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen, met with the commission on July 7.

The FCC is considering Philadelphia-based Comcast's $45.2 billion proposal to acquire Time Warner Cable. The deal would combine the two largest U.S. cable companies and give the enlarged Comcast about 30 million subscribers.

A Comcast spokeswoman, Sena Fitzmaurice, said every market the company operates in is highly competitive. "Dish has long been one of our most vigorous competitors, and unlike us has a national footprint available in tens of millions of more homes than a combined Comcast–Time Warner Cable," she said in an e- mailed statement.

More coverage
  • Comcast bulking up for the future
  • The acquisition would give Comcast a presence in 16 of the 20 largest U.S. cities. After the merger, Comcast would connect 33 percent of U.S. subscribers to broadband, or high-speed Internet service over a wire, according to figures compiled by SNL Kagan, a research firm.

    A combined Comcast-Time Warner would "exercise its enormous size to leverage programming content in anti- competitive ways," Blum said in the filing that reported on the meetings with regulators. "It will be able to extract lower prices from programmers, which, in turn, will force programmers to extract even higher rates from smaller pay-TV providers like Dish in order to compensate the programmers for lost revenue."

    The combined company would have at least three "choke points" where it can harm competing video services including the direct connection to consumers, Blum wrote.

    Chris Strohm Bloomberg News
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