February 20, 2014 < Previous Entry | Next Entry >

The Comcast-Time Warner Merger Threatens Democracy

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By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan

Comcast has announced it intends to merge with Time Warner Cable, joining together the largest and second-largest cable and broadband providers in the country. The merger must be approved by both the Justice Department and the FCC. Given the financial and political power of Comcast, and the Obama administration’s miserable record of protecting the public interest, the time to speak out and organize is now.

“This is just such a far-reaching deal, it should be dead on arrival when it gets to the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission for approval,” Michael Copps told me days after the merger announcement. Copps was a commissioner on the FCC from 2001 to 2011, one of the longest-serving commissioners in the agency’s history. Now he leads the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause. “This is the whole shooting match,” he said. “It’s broadband. It’s broadcast. It’s content. It’s distribution. It’s the medium and the message. It’s telecom, and it’s media, too.” Back in 2011, when Comcast sought regulatory approval of its proposed acquisition of NBC Universal (NBCU), Copps was the sole “no” vote out of the five FCC commissioners.

Copps is not the only former FCC commissioner with an opinion on the merger. Meredith Attwell Baker served briefly there, from 2009 to 2011. President Barack Obama appointed Baker, a Republican, to maintain the traditional party balance on the FCC. Baker was a big supporter of the Comcast-NBCU merger. It surprised many, however, when she abruptly resigned her FCC commission seat to go work for—you guessed it—Comcast. She was named senior vice president for governmental affairs for NBCU, just four months after voting to approve the merger.

Click to read the full column published at Truthdig.