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Comcast-TWC Merger Faces Another Congressional Panel

Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable comes before another congressional panel on Thursday, as a House Judiciary subcommittee hears from a series of witnesses on whether the massive transaction should get the greenlight from federal regulators.

Like a hearing held last month in the Senate, Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen is scheduled to testify, and he is expected to emphasize that the transaction will not limit competition. He has argued that the combination will allow Comcast the scale needed to boost its offerings and technology.

But on Tuesday, Matthew Polka, the president and CEO of the American Cable Assn. who also will be testifying, announced that his organization will oppose the deal. The organization represents small- and medium-sized cable operators.

“To put it mildly, the Comcast-TWC transaction is a ‘big deal’ that threatens consumers and competition, likely resulting in higher prices for consumers,” Polka said, according to an advance text of his remarks. He argues that unless “robust relief” conditions are placed on the deal, it should not be approved. Netflix and Univision are among the larger companies that have also declared their opposition, and the Writers Guild of America (West and East) have come out against it.

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the FCC each are reviewing the transaction.

The role of Congress is of oversight, not whether to accept or deny the merger. The House’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, chaired by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), also has scheduled testimony from Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus, Columbia Law School Professor C. Scott Hemphill, attorney Allen Grunes, Rural Media Group chairman Patrick Gottsch, Cogent Communications CEO Dave Schaeffer and DeepField Networks CEO Craig Labovitz.

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