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First Comcast-TW Cable Showdown with Feds Set for March 26

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled what is likely to be the first public forum for scrutinizing the details of Comcast’s proposed $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced the scheduling of the March 26 session, which will be webcast. The Comcast-TW Cable deal is coming in for approval by federal regulators just as questions about net neutrality and other broadband access issues are front and center for Congress and the FCC.

“Millions of Americans rely on cable connectivity to receive the programs they love and to access the Internet at the fast speed needed as we conduct more of our lives online,” Leahy said. “The merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable touches on important policy questions about how Americans access these valuable services.  It also presents a critical moment to discuss net neutrality principles that have allowed the Internet to remain an open marketplace for ideas.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee, vowed to “carefully scrutinize” the implications of the nation’s two largest cable operators joining forces.

“Consumers deserve fair prices and high-quality service for their TV and Internet access,” she noted.

Minnesota’s other senator, Democrat Al Franken, has been vocal about his concern that the deal would give Comcast too much market power over broadband rates and Internet access.

There was no word yet on witnesses set to appear at the hearing.

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