Dish Network is urging FCC officials to reject the proposed merger of Comcast with Time Warner Cable, concluding that the transaction “presents serious competitive concerns for the broadband and video marketplace.”
Dish Network’s opposition was disclosed in a filing with the FCC made after its CEO, Charlie Ergen, and other executives held a series of meetings on Monday with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and the agency’s four other commissioners.
The satcaster argued that the combined company “would have increased incentive and ability to leverage its control over the broadband pipe to undermine” the growth of over-the-top video services.
“Comcast/TWC will have at least three ‘choke points’ in the broadband pipe where it can harm competing video services: the last mile ‘public Internet’ channel to the consumer; the interconnection point; and any managed or specialized service channels, which can act as high speed lanes and squeeze the capacity of the public Internet portion of the pipe,” Dish said in its filing. “Each choke point provides the ability for the combined company to foreclose the online video offerings of its competitors.”
Dish argued that there “do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger.” It also cited concerns that the combined companies could extract lower prices from programmers, who would then seek higher rates from smaller pay TV providers like Dish to make up for the lost revenue.
The proposed $45 billion merger of the two cable giants must be approved by the Department of Justice and the FCC.
In a statement, Comcast took issue with Dish’s opposition.
“As our filings have shown, every market we operate in is highly competitive,” Comcast said in a statement. “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. Dish not wanting stronger competitors isn’t surprising and it isn’t new. Any issues regarding NBCUniversal programming and other video services, whether they be traditional or over the top are already amply covered by pre-existing FCC rules and deal conditions.”
Dish also said that the pending merger between AT&T and DirecTV raised “competitive concerns,” as the companies will combine their market power to “leverage programming content, to the potential detriment of consumers.” But Dish did not explicitly say that it opposed that transaction. There has been speculation that Dish would seek its own merger partner if the AT&T-DirecTV transaction is approved.