Comcast-Time Warner Merger Could Cause A 'Huge War' In Washington, D.C.

Apr 28, 2014

Comcast Executive VP David Cohen (left), and Time Warner Executive VP and CFO Arthur T. Minson Jr. wait to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 2014.
Comcast Executive VP David Cohen (left), and Time Warner Executive VP and CFO Arthur T. Minson Jr. wait to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 2014.
Credit AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Comcast provides Internet and cable service to more households than any other cable company in the U.S.

In Washington, D.C., Comcast has hired more than 80 lobbyists to sell its $45 billion mega-merger with Time Warner Cable. The deal, filed earlier this month, is now pending approval from the FCC and Department of Justice.

Politico’s technology reporter Tony Romm said these lobbyists have plenty of convincing to do.

“Members of Congress, in particular, have been pretty vocal about the deal and what it means for consumers,” he told David Hyde on KUOW's The Record.

Even though Congress doesn’t have a final say in the deal, Romm said he expects to see plenty of hearings and debate on this issue. Netflix and public interest groups, like Public Knowledge and Free Press, have already spoken out against the deal.

If the the merger goes through, critics fear Comcast would gain too much market power. "Opponents say it could potentially mean higher cable rates; they think it could mean fewer choices for broadband," Romm said. "But Comcast says it’s good for consumers to have one company that’s able to invest so heavily in innovation, that’s willing to protect the open Internet."

With substantial money and power at stake, Romm said the merger is expected to cause a “huge war” in Washington, D.C. It could take more than a year before the federal government makes its final decision, and the corporations' political ties could complicate the issue.

“The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal really illuminates that there might be too much money in politics. Some of the folks at the very top levels of government have close connections to these companies,” he said.

For example, Comcast's Executive VP David Cohen has helped raise money for President Barack Obama in the past, according to Romm. “There’s a pretty close relationship between Comcast and the White House. So if you think there’s enough money here, you’re probably going to look at this deal with a skeptical eye.”

Meanwhile, in Seattle, Comcast’s contract is up for renewal in 2016. To seek public input on what residents want from their TV and Internet service, the City of Seattle is currently conducting an online survey.

Produced for the Web by Akiko Oda.