Tech Industry Trade Group Opposes Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

Comcast Time Warner Senate Hearing
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Industry trade group the Computer & Communications Industry Assn. is urging federal regulators to block the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, concluding that it would give the combined company “even more ability to successfully harm competition and innovation in the greater Internet ecosystem.”

The group’s opposition was revealed in a letter made public on Monday by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the most visible congressional critic of the transaction. He had sought out its opinion and has highlighted the issue in congressional hearings and during his re-election campaign.

“If regulators were to conclude that the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger does not have a chance of substantially lessening competition, then it is hard to imagine a real-world merger that would,” wrote the association’s president and CEO, Ed Black. “Therefore, regulators should block this merger, not only for the good of innovation, the Internet industry and of customers; but also for the sanctity of antitrust law itself.”

The complete letter is here.

The trade association includes Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Sprint, T-Mobile, Motorola, Dish, Aereo, Pandora and TiVo.

Black wrote that its opposition reflects “an aggregate of our members’ feedback,” but that the views should not “be presumed to express the position of any individual member company.”

In the letter, Black argued that “acute competitive problems already exist in the last-mile broadband access market, and not only will this merger lead to even less competition, but it would make competitive entry less likely in the future.”

Comcast argues that the merger will afford it the scale it needs to improve technology and increase broadband speeds, and that the transaction won’t be limiting choices for cable and broadband service in individual markets. The merger will leave Comcast with just under 30% of the pay TV market, and about 40% of the wired broadband market.

As part of plans to divest some 3.9 million subscribers, Comcast would no longer have a presence in Minnesota, although it would be increasing its footprint in New York and Los Angeles.

A spokeswoman for Comcast said the company had no comment.

The CCIA also argues that Google Fiber, cited as an emerging competitor to Comcast, nevertheless offers “little hope” of being a “true nationwide competitive challenger to the incumbent cable industry any time soon,” and that Comcast would have an incentive to raise “the entry barriers to new broadband challengers.”