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Comcast's biggest reason it's citing to approve its $45.2 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable (TWC) is that the two companies don't compete against each other.

 photo DavidCohen_zps2eccb2ac.jpg

As David Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast, said during the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing:

South Carolina is one of the states where Time Warner Cable and Comcast both have a presence. It is a state that actually demonstrates the lack of competitive overlap between the two.
In other words, their argument is that there can't be less competition because there currently is no competition.

I hate to ask the obvious question but: As the two biggest cable providers, shouldn't you have been competing against each other?

Al Franken brought up the best point of the Senate Judiciary hearing that in 2010, when Comcast wanted to merge with NBCUniversal, they cited Time-Warner Cable as a specific competitor who could prevent Comcast from setting anti-competitive prices.

Comcast can't have it both ways. It can't say that the existence of competition among distributors including Time Warner Cable was a reason to approve the NBC deal in 2010 and then turn around a few years later and say that the absence of competition with Time Warner Cable is a reason to approve this deal.
What I'm hearing though is that not only do they want it both ways, but that they've had it both ways even as separate companies.

Or, as Senator Lindsey Graham said in what he thought was a softball question to support Time Warner's argument:

Graham: “So, generally speaking, cable companies don’t compete with each other, is that what we’re saying?”
Cohen: "That is correct."
Wait ... isn't this a problem? Is there any way we can go after Comcast and TWC for not competing?  

Instead of allowing these companies to merge (because they already don't compete), shouldn't we be working to establish more competition for consumers?

And yes, I understand that there are other technologies such as DirecTV (which Lindsay Graham admits gets bad reception during storms) and online streaming companies (like Netflix, which Comcast already strong-armed into paying twice), but these are different services. Cable is seen as the premier television service. And in the broadband market, there is no competition.

Comcast is admitting that they're a regional monopoly and we're going to give them a broader monopoly?

The hubris is simply stunning.

The only way Comcast could be more (dis)honest is if they admitted that they had already purchased the results of the Congressional hearings.    

Oh wait ... David Cohen did say the following to Lindsey Graham during testimony:

“I should just let you take the witness seat, because that’s exactly what I’ve been saying.”
Hi, I'm Lindsay Graham for Comcast.

Is this a hearing about what's best for the people of our country or what's best for Comcast?

Maybe this is why Comcast recently beat out such stellar corporations as Monsanto, Walmart, and SeaWorld to win the Golden Poo award as worst company in America. Ousted in the quarterfinals was Time Warner Cable (TWC).  

No wonder people are so frustrated with Congress.

A few statistics on television markets

Just the television portion (excluding Internet or phone service) of the cable bill has nearly doubled to $86 over the past 10 years. A cable and Internet package is roughly $125-150 (though they often offer a low introductory price to get you in the door).

U.S. consumers in major cities pay higher prices for slower speeds compared to consumers abroad.

Television dwarfs online video advertising by a factor of 20 to 1.

4 carriers dominate the television landscape: Time Warner, Comcast, DirecTV and DISH network.

Channels are bundled so that you pay for them even if you don't watch them. Example: ESPN at $5.54 a month.

Only four cable and satellite providers reach more than 10 million subscribers:
Comcast (22 million), DirecTV (20 million); DISH Network (14 million); and Time Warner
Cable (11 million)

Broadcasting and Content

Comcast owns or partially owns:

- Eleven regional sports networks
- Universal Pictures
- USA Networks
- Syfy
- Oxygen
- E!,
- MSNBC
- CNBC
- Golf Channel
- Bravo
- Telemundo
- NBC
- 26 broadcast stations

TimeWarner owns:

- Time Warner Cable SportsNet
- Time Warner Cable Deportes
- SportsNet LA
- 26 local news channels
- 16 local sports channels
- Turner Broadcasting
- Warner Brothers studios
- The WB and Kids WB
- Cartoon Network
- Adult Swim
- HBO
- New Line Cinema
- CNN

In other words, Comcast/Time Warner would own a majority of channels on TV in addition to the means to deliver these channels. They also would be a major force in content development. A strong incentive would exist to deny competitors access to bandwidth in favor of Comcast/Time Warner channels and content.

As Al Franken mentioned, Comcast was allowed to purchase NBCUniversal in 2010 only because they cited Time Warner as a competitor who owned competing content developers and channels.

Statistics on Broadband

The U.S. is 17th among developed nations in broadband capabilities and 2nd among developed nations in cost.

As Richard J. Sherwin, CEO of Spot On Networks LLC (testimony that you won't see on network television), said:

"When a service provider controls an area, with little or no competition, the service provider is incentivized to extract maximum profit for minimum investment to satisfy its shareholders with little regard for innovation or improvement."
The following map from the WSJ (full map here) shows exactly how Comcast and TWC don't compete in the broadband market either.

Yet instead of creating conditions where these companies would compete with each other, we're considering a merger to solidify the monopoly.  

 photo WSJbroadbandhalf_zpsbf9cc3c7.jpg

The need for good government

Every liberal should be talking about this because I can't think of a better case for good government.

1. Two companies want to create a monopoly to increase their leverage over consumers and other, smaller businesses. No one outside of Comcast and TWC benefits.

2. Comcast develops talking points: "Well, we're already not competing so how could it be worse?"  

3. The media mindlessly repeats these talking points. I swear I heard someone on NPR the other day saying "They really don't compete now so this isn't going to change things." Ummm ... they really don't compete now? Did you really just say that? Isn't that a problem?

4. Congress repeats the talking points (Did I mention Comcast is a major donor?).

5. No one asks any real people what they think. All the testimony before the judiciary committee was CEOs, lobbyists, and industry insiders. Not all of it was for the deal, but where are the people?  

6. An FCC headed by former industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler is in charge of approving the deal.

7. The Tea Party uses this as yet another instance of why we need to get rid of government.

Getting rid of government won't stop Comcast from becoming a monopoly. The problem, however, is that the government we have doesn't seem to be doing enough either.

What we need is good government. What we need is a government that considers consumers as well as the needs of our largest businesses.

We should be using the Comcast merger to talk about these principles and make the case for good government.

This would do more for the Democratic Party than any money they could possibly receive from Comcast.

I think these officials need to hear from some actual people

They seem to be in such a bubble that they're saying things like "cable companies don't compete with each other" as if it's a good thing.

I wrote to Al Franken, Lindsay Graham, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, and my own Congressmen and told them about my experiences with our current regional monopoly Time Warner.

The answer is not to create a bigger monopoly with Comcast, but to introduce more competition into the currently existing regional monopolies. At the very least, why aren't they competing with each other?

We should be asking questions like: Why do we have such poor service at such high cost? Why do we compare so poorly with other countries?  

  • Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman and former industry lobbyist

Democrats (majority party) on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Republicans (minority party) on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Ask them to talk to some real people in Comcast or TWC markets. Tell them you can't think of a clearer case for good government than preventing this merger.

And while you're at it, ask them to look into the issues with the existing regional monopolies.

Originally posted to akadjian on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (131+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, oakroyd, Tinfoil Hat, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, quill, blueoregon, BachFan, Just Bob, Geenius at Wrok, MartyM, jlms qkw, Chi, Cadillac64, jaf49, Ottoe, OLinda, Youffraita, sawgrass727, hubcap, bleeding blue, jeffrey789, imicon, bsmechanic, kimoconnor, Dem Beans, antirove, rmonroe, radarlady, dewtx, livingthedream, Catskill Julie, LakeSuperior, Josiah Bartlett, NYFM, Capt Crunch, Mostserene1, ferg, ontheleftcoast, zerelda, oortdust, temptxan, Byron from Denver, grover, Laurel in CA, chimpy, dnamj, TexasTom, Nicci August, pdkesq, not a lamb, Nowhere Man, 420 forever, duhban, karma5230, Positronicus, FoundingFatherDAR, stlsophos, MJ via Chicago, freakofsociety, asindc, vacantlook, Simplify, ChemBob, Statusquomustgo, kharma, slowbutsure, cpresley, Chaddiwicker, Joe Bob, Lefty Coaster, Debbie in ME, xxdr zombiexx, lcrp, petulans, dmhlt 66, rapala, Eileen B, lotlizard, Walt starr, paradise50, BMScott, JesseCW, leonard145b, chrississippi, flavor411, The Hindsight Times, JerryNA, limulus curmudgeon, wishingwell, PrahaPartizan, hbk, orestes1963, glitterscale, devis1, Lying eyes, yoduuuh do or do not, bluedust, ChocolateChris, nomandates, exNYinTX, blueoasis, owlbear1, Creosote, sb, leeleedee, Pat K California, missLotus, splashy, Oh Mary Oh, Sharon Wraight, askyron, coral, madgranny, ladybug53, NewRomeIsBurning, Teenygozer, unclejohn, wilywascal, GirlSwimmingInASeaOfRed, tofumagoo, rllaugh, dewolf99, stitchingasfastasIcan, DarthMeow504, enufenuf, hepette, dcnblues, sciguy, ChariD, Toprow, dconrad
  •  alas, this is true in virtually every industry (18+ / 0-)

    In any industry one looks at, worldwide, anything from cars to computers to corn, there are only a tiny handful of enormous global corporations who dominate virtually the entire market. And like Mafia dons, they have divided the entire market into turfs that they share without having to be constantly fighting with each other. I.e., to wipe out "competition".

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 06:26:16 AM PDT

    •  It seems "competition" is no longer about (18+ / 0-)

      companies competing with each other.

      But is only used to talk about how people should compete with each other for jobs.

    •  Not really, look at the industries you highlighted (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, Back In Blue

      No company has 25% share of the market in computers or autos.

      Competing against them is generally difficult in these large well established markets because the profit margins are so narrow.

      HP, when it was the largest PC maker in the world was looking into selling off that business because of how difficult is has been to make a profit.

      Not that long ago people would routinely call Microsoft and IBM dominant and near monopoly and subject to government anti-trust actions.  Neither one is considered a leading force in the industry today.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:10:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Umm...? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, orestes1963, blueoasis
        Not that long ago people would routinely call Microsoft and IBM dominant and near monopoly and subject to government anti-trust actions.  Neither one is considered a leading force in the industry today.
        Help me out here: are you arguing just that 'desktop computers are no longer in any way important, and therefore Microsoft is no longer considered a 'leading force'?' Or, if not, what exactly are you arguing? Because Microsoft still has over a 90% market share in OSes.

        http://cdn1.tnwcdn.com/...

        •  OSs are only a small part of Computer Industry (0+ / 0-)

          Sales and a rapidly declining share of the software industry.  Microsoft's share of the software market is now under 20% so their share of the overall computing market is far less than 20%.  Microsoft's share on phones, tablets and Cloud computing is tiny.  Amazon is a far bigger force in Cloud computing than Microsoft.

          Microsoft's System software share has fallen quite a bit with the rise of various flavors of Linux, VMware, Android, IOS.  Due to the nature of how Linux is opensource, its influence and importance to the computing industry is far understated by the sales of Redhat and other Linux providers.  In addition, cloud computing has shifted the industry away from Microsoft.  Much of the computing we do today Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com, twitter, most all websites, etc bypass Microsoft in the cloud.

          Talk to people in the computing industry who don't work for Microsoft and ask, "Is Microsoft Still the leading force in the Computing industry?  They will think you are living in the 1990s.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:49:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But OS's are a critical part (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis

            It is my understanding that Microsoft has agreements with manufacturers to install their OS.  Aren't most computers still operated on MS OS?  As you may be aware, Microsoft blocked other software providers from operating on their OS's.  This has been the subject of an ongoing challenge by the EC's Competition Bureau.  They have compelled MS to lessen its controls over software through its OS, but there are still hurdles for other providers.  Much like the ways in which Apple tries to control the music market by making it difficult to harmonize iTunes with other content sellers.  

            •  Most computing does not use a Microsoft OS (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              orestes1963, wilywascal

              Most computing is done today on derivatives to open source Linux or some other Unix inspired operating system (eg, FreeBSD, IOS, MacOS or QNX).  The servers used by DKos are Linux  as are what data centers typically use. If you access a website, it is far, far more likely to be using Linux than any Microsoft operating system.  If you use NetFlix, the video is shipped on servers running Linux.  If you use a smartphone or tablet - more than 95% don't use Microsoft but a Linux/Unix.  If you use WiFi, the router is almost guaranteed to be running Linux.

              The Microsoft practice of licensing its OS so that PC vendors would almost always pay Microsoft for a license for every PC shipped (through better discounting if a computer company did this) ended in the 1990s.

              Desktops and laptops are being used for many years more than they were in the past, while smartphones and tablets are replaced far more frequently.  Most people spend more each year on average on smartphones and tablets than they do traditional desktops or notebooks.

              Even on traditional PCs running windows, the computing focus for most people has become the web Brouwer as a computing platform, making the choice of OS largely incidental.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:37:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Tell it to AMD and Intel. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PrahaPartizan

        Is it "Gordon Gecko Democrat" week here at Dailykos?

        by JesseCW on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 02:09:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  By far the most commonly used microprocessors (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilywascal

          are the various ARM processors made by Qualcomm, Samsung, Nvidia, Apple, Broadcom, etc.  this is what smartphones, tablets, autos, routers, etc.. and increasingly servers with better energy efficiency use.

          These processors are shipped in multiples of the units shipped by Intel or AMD.  In addition, the share going to non Intel and AMD increases each year.

          Most all people have more ARM based processors in their possession than x86 architectures.

          Computing has changed since the 1990s.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:34:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Comcast is a monopoly.... (15+ / 0-)

      in my small city, Comcast has been the sole provide for years, and due to the large number of historic homes, dishes are not welcome.

      So 2 years ago, Verizon got the go ahead to bury fiber cable along all the residential streets, which cost millions.  I got this info from one of the Verizon foremen.  And when they finished, the city council said, sorry, we only want Comcast as our sole provider for the city.

      True story.  It would seem to violate anti-monopoly laws, among other things, but apparently there is a loophole for Comcast.

      •  Where I live here, (3+ / 0-)

        There is Comcast.

        There is nothing else.

        The postal carrier can't even deliver mail reliably. We are always complaining to the local station manager, but nothing gets resolved. Our mail gets mis-delivered across the whole community.

        So there is Comcast.

        (Oh, the UPS guy is pretty good. I suppose I could use UPS to pay all my bills, eh?)

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:30:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd like to know more about.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yoduuuh do or do not, blueoasis

          Comcast CEO.  I think he is a real conservative.  I researched him a couple years ago, but forgot the details.

          I hate Comcast.  They do two things well: lie, and up-sell.

          •  They're very good at "accidentally" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PrahaPartizan, blueoasis

            Disconnecting transferred customer service calls on difficult cases.

            "Oh. You'll have to speak to our technical services/billing/cancellation department. Let me transfer you"

            -------- dial tone---------

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:13:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Their customer service will also straight up lie (4+ / 0-)

              to customers.
              They are a very scummy corporation.

              •  If that's the case TW is a perfect match (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                orestes1963, grover

                for Comcast because in my city Time Warner is the scummiest of the scummy. " Customer service"?  Forgitaboutit.

                Proud to be a Democrat

                by Lying eyes on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:18:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So true and yet.... (0+ / 0-)

                  Local and County Boards keep granting them monopoly status.  You think money & favors to board members might be the cause?  'Cause it ain't constituent satisfaction.

                  The only reason the 1% are rich is because the 99% agree they are.

                  by GreatLakeSailor on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 12:58:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Yup. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                joynow, flavor411

                One told me that my free router thingy was shipped on schedule. UPS has attempted delivery but I wasn't home.

                At that moment, my UPS guy arrived.

                I order a lot from Amazon, so I know my UPS guy pretty well. I asked him -- with her still on the phone -- hey, did you attempt to deliver a Comcast box to me today?

                He said, "I have no idea what you're talking about." And he stood there  quite annoyed  while I asked her why she lied to me.

                He then left.

                I then asked to be transferred to the service disconnection department. Surprise! Dial tone!

                I did evetially reach that department. An installler personally delivered my router  thing. And I got three free months of internet.

                I was furious, as you could probably imagine. My UPS guy told his supervisor because THEY often get blamed when things go wrong. And they finally had proof Comcast has been blaming UPS for its screw-ups to customers. Apparently, UPS wasnt going to drop the matter.

                I hate Comcast.

                © grover


                So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

                by grover on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:44:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah, their customer service..... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  stitchingasfastasIcan

                  sorry I mean their "Let's screw the customer department" tried to charge me an installation fee when I knew the cable was already on in the apartment I had moved into.
                  After a couple calls that ended with me hanging up on them because they pissed me off for various reasons, I picked up that they used the term 'hot' for a residence that didn't need the cable turned on.

                  I called back and said the apartment was 'hot' and the person on the other end said; "Yes, I can see it on my computer".
                  These fuckers were lying to me the whole time to get an unnecessary "installation fee"

                  I've dropped my cable down to the basic and will eventually drop it completely.

                  I hate the thought of giving my money to scum like Comcast.
                  As they say, "The fish stinks from the head".

                  •  During the last 2 years I lived at my previous (0+ / 0-)

                    apartment, we had only Internet service with Comcast.  We determined that the triple-play wasn't necessary - whenever the Internet went down, we'd also lose our landline service.  For a brief period, I had Clearwire wireless for the Internet in my office, but it was slow and unreliable, so we went back to just using Comcast.

                    I'd say, however, if you can just do Wi-Fi with your wireless service, you'll be better off.  Just not Clearwire - use Verizon or whomever is the dominant wireless provider in your area.

          •  The way you deal with that level (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostserene1, Lying eyes, grover

            at comcast is to get their current main office number and call them at 0831 everyday until they know you. I have had to lay siege to them in the past and that is what got the problem fixed.

            Please and thank you failed. Bullying them paid off.

            Should not have needed to come to that but, as I said, please and thank you accomplished nothing.

            Legal means "good".
            [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

            by xxdr zombiexx on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 01:05:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  *** Comcast customer service extension ****** (0+ / 0-)

              Thanks, Doc.

              Tagging this in my comments for future reference.

              © grover


              So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

              by grover on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:46:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  By contrast, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        enufenuf

        Verizon has the monopoly in my adopted hometown of Ipswich, MA.  It was decided here to make them the sole provider; I don't think I've seen a single satellite dish up here, whereas when I lived in Salem (Nov 2009-Feb 2014), there were dishes on quite a few houses for those not wishing to be so dominated by Comcast, which had the lock on the town.

        Verizon also has a great deal more wireless coverage in New England - I'm the only member of my family currently living in MA, all the rest are in ME, where only 2 companies have cell towers (Verizon and US Cellular - the latter company is owned by Verizon, so I've heard).  This means I'm roaming with my AT&T phone when I'm there, which costs; they don't like it when you roam.

        Whatever way you slice it, telecom service in this country is getting less and less competitive.

      •  And, Comcast is presevring their monopoly ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostserene1

        ... in the same way that phone and power companies used to - by claiming that "nobody else can use OUR wire."  Which we know is only true because they don't ALLOW anyone else to use their wire.  It's just the same age-old argument about sharing one's toys that should have been learned in kindergarten!

        What I'm saying here is that if POWER providers have to share the wiring infrastructure to your home, so you can choose a POWER provider, and if PHONE SERVICE providers also have to share the wiring infrastructure to your home, so you can choose a phone company, WHY don't CABLE providers have to share the wiring infrastructure to your home?  Well, there are two answer to this question -

        1) They don't want to (because then there WOULD be competition), AND

        B) They don't HAVE to (which speaks to the need for regulations to SUPPORT competitiveness - in EVERY market segment!)

        OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

        by mstaggerlee on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 09:40:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The difference is that for cable TV... (12+ / 0-)

      ...it's always been this way.

      There has never been a time in the history of the cable TV industry going all the way back to its origins in the late forties where it has been common for cable companies to compete against each other.

      Ever.

      That's the reason why the FCC and local municipalities once regulated the cable industry pretty heavily -- it was recognized as a natural monopoly, and regulated as such.  But then came the deregulation mania of the eighties and nineties, and most of that regulatory structure was eliminated.  Because somehow free markets are supposed to work in the absence of competition.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:36:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cable is a natural monopoly: ding ding ding!!! (9+ / 0-)

        there are two reasonable public policies to deal with a natural monopoly:
        public ownership, or strict regulation as a public utility.

        Allowing deregulated private monopolies to extort as much money as the traffic will bear should be offensive even to free market fundamentalists.  A healthy democracy would laugh it out of court.  

        The fact that it is not merely taken seriously, but is allowed to dominate our telecom infrastructure is a sign of the decadence of democracy in the US.
        We need to take it back.

        There's no such thing as a free market!

        by Albanius on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:19:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are no free market fundamentalists. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, JerryNA, orestes1963, blueoasis

          That's just a cover.  It allows them to say whatever they like (or are paid to say) on any given day and never be challenged on the substance of their positions because we all know they are Free Market FundamentalistsTM. Everything they say must be a Free Market TruthTM.  It's what allows them to make the contradiction Al Franken pointed out without anyone caring.

          America, where a rising tide lifts all boats! Unless you don't have a boat...uh...then it lifts all who can swim! Er, uh...um...and if you can't swim? SHAME ON YOU!

          by Back In Blue on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:13:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  origins of cable service (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerryNA, yoduuuh do or do not

        Where I grew up, cable tv didn’t exist until the late ‘70s/ early ‘80s. I was a kid back then and definitely remember cable being something of a luxury item that not a lot of people had. Even though cable is a natural monopoly I think it was never regulated as such because it wasn’t anything close to an essential service.

        Fast forward to today, when cable is the default medium for broadband access and there is no question that cable looks a lot more like something that should be a regulated public utility. DSL is an alternative, but only in the sense that it’s an inferior substitute for cable. As for fiber optic…the cable monopoly will have to be addressed long before fiber is reality for most people.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 01:14:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The origins of cable TV... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stitchingasfastasIcan, enufenuf

          ...were actually in areas where no TV service was available off the air, which meant if you wanted to watch TV you had to subscribe to cable.

          But since cable mostly served out of the way areas and had only a small number of subscribers, it was mostly ignored by federal regulators until the seventies.  However, it was franchised and controlled at the local level, and the cities that granted the franchises had some say in the pricing of the service.

          That say at the local level was effectively preempted by federal law in the nineties, during the deregulatory fervor of the period.  A stupid law then, and it's even more stupid today as broadband service becomes a basic utility.

          Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

          by TexasTom on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 10:33:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Indeed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            enufenuf

            cable was originally just a way to get three channels if you could only get two by adjusting the rabbit ears just so.  Gradually, as independent TV stations sprang up and PBS became more widespread, it meant you could actually use the UHF dial on your old gigantic TV set that required a team of strong men with a dolly to move.

            Funnier still, I recall reading - in the summer of '95 or so - the obituary of the woman who'd created the first cable provider!  I rather imagine she's spinning in her grave at what it has become in these latter days.  Springsteen did a song in '92 called "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" - now it's closer to 1000 channels, including various on-demand services, digital versions and other multiples.  Still vast piles of crap programming, too.

    •  This is a different type of market (0+ / 0-)

      Cable companies operate as local monopolies because of infrastructure demands, like utilities (most of which are also private these days).  

      There is clearly a problem of consolidation in many markets, but those are not comparable to the cable TV market.

    •  We need a Trust-bustin TR NOW! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stitchingasfastasIcan

      Or regulate these markets like public utilities, and I think this is obvious to all political flavors.  Every home must have internet.  

    •  The Mafia (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enufenuf

      It appears this 'Mafia' is not too bright; a cut in prices will bring more consumers to their business. They are amply compensated for their efforts and a cut in their salaries will have little effect on their life style but with the influx of customers they can quickly return to, if not exceed. their last cut.

      No country can be both ignorant and free - Thomas Jefferson

      by fjb on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 09:32:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And any other cable companies (0+ / 0-)

      competing against them tend to be small locals in areas not served by the big companies.  Until late 2009, I lived in Greene Co., NY; there, and the county bordering us east of the Hudson (Columbia Co.), were not served by TWC but by the small Hudson Valley Cable (and their service record was horrible).  That's unless you have other forms of broadband - say, satellite (which is prohibitively expensive and even more cutthroat than cable) or FiOS (of which there are 2 providers in the Greater Boston area where I now live - Verizon and the much smaller [and less expensive] RCN).  Verizon has cornered the market in my adopted hometown of Ipswich.  It's to the point now that these big companies can persuade town halls to let them have a lock on local service.

      That being said, I find FiOS to be far and away superior to cable and do not miss Comcast's very hit-and-miss service and incompetent installation techs.

  •  Another reason (26+ / 0-)

    One my friends is a film buff and posted this on ShoutyFace

    Comcast wants permission from the Senate Judiciary Committee to merge with Time-Warner. They will have all the RKO Radio films; majority of M-G-M; all the Warner bros. films, past and present; most United Artists features; old Monogram and more. With NBCU they already have all pre-1948 Paramount; all Universal features and the entire 18,000 hour NBC archives. This is only a sliver of the entire gargantuan mega-merger, not to mention two major studios. They want content! I say enough is enough! They shouldn't possess 85% (my estimate) of Hollywood history. The hearing is tomorrow (4/8). I hope the Senators catch on to this. Comcast is feeling very confident.

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 06:44:59 AM PDT

  •  Great diary, thanks. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BMScott, blueoasis, joynow

    What I'm most concerned about, beyond the media consolidation, which is grossly undemocratic and anti-free market, is the fact the spaces that aren't represented by cable and telecom companies. There is absolutely no reason our whole country can't be wired for wifi, beyond the fact the companies don't want to dole out the money, even though they've been given millions of dollars to do so. This is leaving millions of people without wifi, cable and emergency service contact. This, imo, is the main reason congress should not allow the merger.

    Poverty is the worst form of violence. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by blueoregon on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:15:29 AM PDT

    •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      that should be a goal of congress.  If the government engaged in a program to reach every household (in the manner of the Tennessee Valley Authority), we could have real competition in this market.  Other countries have rightly treated this as a national issue (granted few countries have the same geographic scale as the US).  

  •  And this is why I don't watch TeeVee (0+ / 0-)

    I don't want to give these crooks my money.

    That and "boobtube" is self-explanatory.

  •  Instead of approving this merger (11+ / 0-)

    The FCC, FTC, DoJ and congress should force both companies to open up their infrastructure for use by each other in markets where they currently don't compete, which along with Verizon's FiOS would give consumers in some areas at least 3 choices for TV and internet, in some places at least 2, and in others more than 3. We need MORE competition and options, not fewer.

    Or, we could just merge all of the country's telcoms into one giant utility and require the resulting entity to be put under semi-public control a la Amtrak with set rates and a requirement that 99% of US homes and businesses have affordable access to at least 10Mbs internet.

    Of course, none of that's going to happen, the merger will be approved with just token resistance and regulatory due diligence, rates will skyrocket and performance and service will plunge as the newly-merged Comcast-TW takes advantage of its monopoly, consumers will increasingly choose to do without cable and internet or at least premium cable and high-speed internet, which will accelerate the already underway consumer flight from cable, leading to some sort of death spiral for cable and inequality of access to high-speed internet for consumers. As with everything else, it'll be excellent speed and service for the rich and better-off, and crap for everyone else.

    Of course, this race to the bottom model, the inevitable and unavoidable consequence of deregulation (and any "free market" libertarians who disagree are FUCKING MORONS), is unsustainable, and ultimately can only be sustained through open fascism, which itself can't be sustained forever.

    So what are we going to do about this, America? Continue to "look forward" and try to find a "middle ground" (that oddly always favors the already well-off), or are we going to get our collective heads out of our asses and vote these fascist Repubs and neoliberal Dems out of office and take back the country from them and the robber barons who own their asses?

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:40:43 AM PDT

    •  Don't get dispirited- First ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie

      Convince the people you know.

      Then convince the people you don't know who usually agree.

      Then convince those sitting on the fence.

      All the while keep pushing on those in power, letting them know you know about what's going on.

      Everyone I know personally ... conservatives, liberals, moderates, libertarians alike ... all think this is a terrible idea.

      Pretty soon ... you have a revolution

      •  But what form does that "revolution" take (0+ / 0-)

        and how does it operatively block this merger? Is there a precedent for that, that was due to citizen action? I'm sure there is, but sleep deprivation has affected my memory.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 01:18:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Free Market Myth (12+ / 0-)

    I think one of the biggest myths out there is that business is the
    guarantor of free markets and competitio­n. Businesses hates
    competitio­n and prefer monopoly, monopsony and oligopoly and will use
    their influence with government to stifle competitio­n.Effective regulation­, transparen­cy and good government
    are needed to promote free markets.

    The quote below is from the book Capitalism and Freedom written by
    Milton and Rose Friedman. Dr. Friedman is the economist who is quoted
    most often when conservati­ves are praising free markets and
    capitalism­.

    "But we cannot rely on custom or conscious alone to interpret and
    enforce the rules; we need an umpire.The­se then are the basic role of
    government in a free society; to provide a means where we can modify
    rules, to mediate difference­s among us on the meaning of rules, and to
    enforce compliance with the rules on the part of those few who otherwise
    would not play the game."

    For whatever reason, this part of Dr. Friedman's philosophy is never mentioned when it comes to making "free markets" work.

    You Don't Happen To Make It. You Make It Happen !

    by jeffrey789 on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 09:27:57 AM PDT

    •  I bring this up all the time w/ Libertarians (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jeffrey789, JerryNA, blueoasis

      It's probably why most of them have moved on to the Austrian crackpots like von Mises.

      Friedman is far too "liberal" these days for them.

      I do find, however, that this is a great way to get many folks to acknowledge a positive role of government. It would just be so much easier to explain if government would do more of the right thing.

      •  The common libertarian response... (5+ / 0-)

        ...is always that 'monopoly is impossible without government intervention'. If you ask why, you always start hearing about 'diseconomies of scale' and that's where it leaves off, because they don't actually generally understand what they're arguing.

        When I ask about specifics — companies using their market power to corner supplies of necessary raw materials, companies dumping goods below cost until the upstarts go out of business, companies bribing board members or doing hostile takeovers, all the ways that companies have held onto monopolies in the past — their eyes just glaze over and they suddenly don't want to talk about it any more, because they're obviously right and I'm obviously wrong because diseconomies of scale.

        They live in an ideological world, one where they can never be proven wrong, because it is conceptually impossible for them to be wrong.

  •  Really great diary. (5+ / 0-)

    My neighborhood just qualified for google fiber and it should be installed within the next couple of weeks.  Google fiber is now expanding into more cities and if this merger does go through it might help people to escape the maw of TWC/Comcast.

    As soon as I hit the two-year mark on TWC about eight months ago they jacked my rate up to jaw-dropping proportions. And, when google fiber announced that they were coming to south KC I got inundated with 'free' offers from TWC - free movie channels, etc - that would have no doubt extended my contract with them had I taken them up on their 'free' offers.  Talk about slimy business tactics.  I wonder how many people were tricked into a new service agreement with them.

    Since GF is expanding into so many new cities I might diary about the pitfalls of qualifying your neighborhood for the service.  It was a bit hairy, to say the least.

    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John F. Kennedy

    by Dem Beans on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 09:39:35 AM PDT

  •  The concentration of bully power (7+ / 0-)

    With those who purchase, sell and distribute content as well as handle widespread internet access is very bad for consumers.

    Many communities already have a 'cable monopoly', but when we minimize the number of total marketspace competitors, we lower the ability to have a solid regulatory enforcement on their practices... they become 'too big to regulate'.  

    Widespread denials of carriers, content etc. have already happened in several major markets, and Comcast has already haggled with netflix to demand trade offs for bandwidth usage on their network.

    These policies lower consumer access to quality service and content providers find themselves nearly forced into negotiating positions they would not have been otherwise, lowering the value of product.

    This one-two punch increases profit for those who balloon to mammoth size while squeezing everyone else out of the picture or forcing mergers.

    Also not addressed here but should be obvious:  the combining of TWC and Comcast will mean significant employee layoffs as 'redundant positions' will need to be liquidated in order to increase the profit position in the new entity.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 09:43:04 AM PDT

  •  If antitrust laws were being enforced, maybe... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Freedomfreak, JesseCW, blueoasis
    "Wait ... isn't this a problem? Is there any way we can go after Comcast and TWC for not competing?"

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 09:58:55 AM PDT

  •  Link to Schumer is broken, see within (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akadjian

    (202) 224-6542 DC Office

    District Offices and phone numbers

    Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

    by Catskill Julie on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:02:36 AM PDT

  •  When discussing competition in the (0+ / 0-)

    cable industry, remember that ATT is now a direct competitor with cable companies for the same services, so market analysis and review of issues of competition ought to mention them as a player.

    Note, for purposes of the Democratic Party coalition .....that Comcast is not a union shop, but ATT is.

    •  Not in many markets. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell

      They tell me to keep calling them. I'd love to be with AT&T instead.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:35:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Comcast Charges Me $15 Per Month To NOT (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, Back In Blue, wishingwell

    have cable television.

    I just want Internet Access.

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:18:38 AM PDT

    •  I get my broadband through a local telephone co. (0+ / 0-)

      So I don't have to go through TWC.

      Unfortunately, you have to have a phone line w/ them for DSL so I pay about $15 a month for a phone line I never use.

      It is still better than TWC.

      Their service and tech support are good. Whenever I've had issues they've been very helpful.

      And I've figured out I can use the phone number as my spam line. Since it's not actually hooked up to a phone, I give out to companies I don't want to contact me when they ask for a phone number.

    •  I would have to pay $10 more to NOT have a Comcast (0+ / 0-)

      Phone line.

      So I have a phone line I never use via the Triple Play bundle.

      Want a phone number? I'll sublet it to you for $5.

      ;)

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:37:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Change Government Policy for more Competition (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akadjian, Back In Blue, orestes1963

    Local governments in many cities get very large fees every month for access for the routing of cable underground and on utility poles.  This drives up the cost of broadband as these fees get passed onto customers - but is an attractive invisible tax on the public.  This also makes it far more difficult for competitors to enter a market.

    The federal government should make it illegal for cities to do this or to make cable/phone service a monopoly service by law.

    Considering the many areas not served by gigabit service, opening the market to competitors by changing the above would have a huge result - as fiber optic networks are a game changer.

    In addition, service can be delivered by fiber optics to the street but access to the home by WiFi.  Doing this dramatically reduces cost of the infrastructure.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:19:09 AM PDT

  •  Funny how much I used to hate Cox (0+ / 0-)

    now they seem (Seem!) like the good guys. Sigh.

  •  I have never lived in a place... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orestes1963

    Where there was ever more than one choice of cable company.

    In fact, the lack of competition and the fact they don't have to compete for customers is why those coverage maps actually cover far less than they would seem to indicate.

    For instance, I'm in New Mexico. From the map there, it would appear that I'm well within a Comcast coverage area. (Of course, ONLY Comcast...)  Well, the other thing they do is they don't bother running cable anywhere they think will be less than rip-off profitable for them -- and that means most of rural and semi-rural America gets a choice between satellite (DirecTV, Dish) or nothing.

    Don't even get me started on broadband out here... If it wasn't for a little podunk wireless company, we'd be on dial-up.

    "Don't ride in anything with a Capissen 38 engine. They fall right out of the sky." -- Kaywinnit Lee Frye

    by Technowitch on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:30:31 AM PDT

  •  I agree with this diary for the most part... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akadjian, Jill, Joe Bob

    But two points here: at one point you kind of state that DirecTV and Dish aren't viable competitors because of poor storm reception, but then you site these numbers: Comcast (22 million), DirecTV (20 million); DISH Network (14 million); and Time Warner Cable (11 million).  Given that only 2 million subscribers separate DirecTV and Comcast, these numbers really negate your assertion that DirecTV and Dish are not real competitors for cable providers.  And, as LakeSuperior noted above, you omitted AT&T from the analysis, although they likely haven't reached critical mass on the TV front.  Anyway, as I said I agree with the competition isuses you cite overall, but it weakens your analysis and message overall when you summarily dispatch obvious competitiors as not real competitiors without any real reason. Clearly the 34 million folks signed up for satellite don't agree that they aren't reasonable competitors.  I honestly don't even agree that cable is the "gold standard" anymore.

    On another note - no one should ever pay full price for tv service.  We've been with DirecTV for years, and I have never paid full price. All it takes is one call telling them you are thinking of switching and they will offer you a retention package with intro rates, free or heavily discounted channels, and free equipment.  The last few times I've not even had to extend my contract.  I just call when my promo period expires.  This works with other providers as well, and obviously you have to have the free time to call these folks, a luxury so many hard working folks don't.  Anyway, this isn't a criticism, I just want to put this out there in the hopes of saving some other folks some cash.

    •  But Comcast isn't countrywide (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Freedomfreak, Joe Bob

      whereas DirecTV shows national numbers.

      The denominators are nowhere near the same (100M households for DTV, and maybe what, 35M for Comcast?)

      Compare these 2 because their maps overlap, but not because they have nearly the same number of subscribers.

      That's like saying since Republicans control the House, there are more Republicans across the country.

      There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

      by cbabob on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:25:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What is the relevance of these points? (0+ / 0-)

        DirecTV has the ability to reach these markets, so it is a viable competitor.  Its customer numbers indicate it has the scale to compete effectively.  Of course, one could argue that the service is so deficient (doesn't work in bad weather; frequent stoppages of connectivity, etc.) that it is not an effective competitor (ie, people only subscribe when they have no other choice), but these are separate arguments.  Putting aside these objections, DirecTV would be viewed by the regulators as a viable competitor whose presence could constrain prices.

    •  In some ways they're direct competitors, in some (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob

      ways, not.

      Many people don't want satellite service and will stick with cable. However, I've heard the reverse from people too.

      Also, I don't believe DISH or DirecTV offer broadband or phone services.

      I have, however, used the same trick w/ TWC of threatening to cancel.

    •  The only folks I know who have satellite (0+ / 0-)

      have it because there's no cable where they live.  Not saying that's every sat customer, clearly it's not.  But I bet it's a significant number of people.  I don't see this merger improving things for people who don't live near the major metros.

      America, where a rising tide lifts all boats! Unless you don't have a boat...uh...then it lifts all who can swim! Er, uh...um...and if you can't swim? SHAME ON YOU!

      by Back In Blue on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:24:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would argue (0+ / 0-)

        That is not the vast majority of sat customers. Here in Las Vegas, tons of folks have satellite. I'd say 2/3 of my neighbors have dishes on their houses. When I lived up north in Reno it was the same way.

    •  They are absolutely competitors (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdkesq

      secondly, at some point cable will be passe and the new wireless/cableless technologies will take over the market. A competitor is someone who challenges another for someone's business. I want to subscribe to a company that broadcasts TV shows. I have a selection between DirecTV and Comcast to beam TV shows into my home. I make a choice, let's say DirecTV and not Comcast. How is that not competition? Both companies are competing for my business.

      Quite frankly, the diary is illustrative of your bias, and citing Senator Franken who has always been against anything Comcast has done as if he is Elliot Ness going after Al Capone is not looking at this issue from a perspective other than a biased one. If you don't like Comcast because they are Comcast, or because their customer service or programming is bad, that is fine. If you think they're purchase of TWC is in violation of anti-trust laws, then cite real case law. If they support bigotry or their company aligns itself with far right wing causes, that's fair too (which actually Comcast does the exact opposite, they support equality and is pretty politically neutral; Cohen was Ed Rendell's deputy and publicly supported Obama's election to the presidency and hosted a big Philly fund raiser). I would like to find your post credible but the competition angle with the satellites ruined it at least for me.

      Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others....Groucho Marx

      by tazz on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 07:17:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This whole deal stinks (0+ / 0-)

    It's one of the reasons I recently switched to Verizon (not necessarily better but I've never had problems with them for my phone).

    Sarcasm: It beats killing people...

    by Dreggas on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:49:50 AM PDT

  •  It's worth mentioning that most Senators (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akadjian, Back In Blue

    overseeing the deal have received campaign contributions from one or both companies. James Hepburn had a great diary on it yesterday.

    To put it differently, don't expect too much from the Gang of Suck - Douchebag Durbin, Chuck E. Schumer, and Di-Fi.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:51:07 AM PDT

    •  I don't ... which is why they need to know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      420 forever

      People are watching and care about this.

      Thanks for posting that list of contributors! I knew many received contributions from the telecom folks but this is a great list. I hadn't seen.

      I also know they were big Obama backers as well. Will have to look for numbers.

  •  we need better laws on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    I'm so jealous of Fiber on this because all the other ISPs are a joke and a bad one at that.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:52:28 AM PDT

  •  The real issues with a merger (4+ / 0-)

    Involve what would happen behind the scenes rather than the direct consumer interface.  There are two issues here.  One, as the diary points out, the integration where one media company would unilaterally control such a vast amount of the media production.  The second issue is that one company would also control the majority of the Internet back haul network.  Couple that with the issue that the company is in part a media company and how the smaller media players, e.g. Netflix, rely upon access to the Internet that would be controlled by this company.

    There are no two ways about it.  It is a losing proposition for the consumer.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:55:02 AM PDT

  •  Need to correct (0+ / 0-)

    This part:

    TimeWarner owns:

    - Time Warner Cable SportsNet
    - Time Warner Cable Deportes
    - SportsNet LA
    - 26 local news channels
    - 16 local sports channels
    - Turner Broadcasting
    - Warner Brothers studios
    - The WB and Kids WB
    - Cartoon Network
    - Adult Swim
    - HBO
    - New Line Cinema
    - CNN

    Time Warner Cable (which is the one merging with Comcast) was spun out of Time Warner Inc. back in 2009.

    Those splits are:

    Time Warner Cable
    - Time Warner Cable SportsNet
    - Time Warner Cable Deportes
    - SportsNet LA
    - various local news channels
    - various local sports channels

    Time Warner Inc.
    - Turner Broadcasting
    -- TBS
    -- TNT
    -- CNN
    -- HLN
    -- adult swim
    -- Boomerang
    -- Cartoon Network
    -- NBA TV1
    -- Turner Classic Movies
    -- various others US and Int'l
    -- various production entities
    - Warner Brothers
    -- various WB production entities
    -- DC Entertainment
    - The WB and Kids WB
    - HBO & related companies
    - New Line Cinema

    They're very different beasts now.

    •  Sure they're spun off (0+ / 0-)

      but who controls them?

      "Spun off" can be a legal fiction. Control is what matters.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:11:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are separately controlled (0+ / 0-)

        At least if you can believe wikipedia...

        Time Warner Cable does own several local news and sports channels, but it no longer has any corporate affiliation with national cable channels such as CNN or HBO, which remain the property of the original Time Warner.
        •  So they're truly spereate (0+ / 0-)

          And not like Verizon and Verizon Wireless, where one owns most of the other?

          "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

          by jfern on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 06:02:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Control is not the issue here (0+ / 0-)

        The issue is solely whether those entities are being transferred in this sale.  If not, it doesn't matter who controls them.  It only matters that Comcast will not do.

      •  Look up... (0+ / 0-)

        The list of TWC's major shareholders.  Time Warner Inc. isn't one of them.  It's a list that goes down to chump change levels of ownership, so it's not like TWI has any hidden ownership.

  •  Similar with landline phone co's (0+ / 0-)
    The answer is not to create a bigger monopoly with Comcast, but to introduce more competition into the currently existing regional monopolies.
    I'm forced to go with AT&T because I can't afford a cell phone.  My AT&T monthly base fee has almost doubled in < 10 years.
      It wasn't all that long ago that AT&T was broken up into the "baby bells" because of its monopoly.  Then it was allowed to re-merge.
      Either bring in more competition for landlines or institute program that will reduce cost of cell phone coverage for the low income people of US.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:06:40 AM PDT

    •  How is that possible? (0+ / 0-)

      I have a prepaid cell phone with T-Mobile where I get 1000 minutes per year for $100 +tax. It’s a dumb old flip phone for voice only, texts cost extra and there is no data plan. I can’t imagine there is a phone bill for a land line that is lower than that.  

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:43:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is majorly important (0+ / 0-)

    I could state why but I am too tired to think properly. lol Hope this ends up on the rec list.

    I love president Obama!!!

    by freakofsociety on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:10:41 AM PDT

  •  A perpetual problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orestes1963
    5. No one asks any real people what they think. All the testimony before the judiciary committee was CEOs, lobbyists, and industry insiders. Not all of it was for the deal, but where are the people?
    The people aren't "stakeholders," apparently.

    I guess it's supposed to be that the senators are the ones speaking for the people, but all too often they act as intermediaries, at best.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:39:36 AM PDT

  •  there is no "free market" or competition (0+ / 0-)

    in the cable tee-vee market, we are all slaves paying too
    much for too little and even less service.

    !%$#@Q^%&#&(&%&!%$#^%#!&$(%&&&@$%@~! &^#%&$^%$!$^!&U^$@&^(&^$%(&$@^@%!$
    &%&$^
    ^%(&%#^%#!^%#$^&^%(&$&!#Q%$~!&!@I)@#
    ^
    @@)&% )#!&(!)#%)$&)@()&%)!#%($#@$&U)^! ^@!^%(!)&)!(#%&@#%&$!&"_*!%)($

    THEY ARE ALL FREAKING THIEVES AND BANDITS

    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

    by Statusquomustgo on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:58:11 AM PDT

  •  I DESPISE Comcast, but have little option. I just (0+ / 0-)

    downgraded to save some $ and they put me on a 2 year contract!!! If I need to downgrade again, I will pay a penalty. Just like a cell phone company. Comcast SUCKS! I am fighting this merger tooth and nail!

  •  I don't have cable TV so my money wont go to Fox (0+ / 0-)

    or these rapacious Monopolies.  

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:36:02 PM PDT

  •  In the NY market (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    TW Cable operates pursuant to a license from the city because of the infrastructure required.  It is not feasible to run separate cables for each provider.  I think this is the case in most markets.  The problems regarding rates and services really fall at the feet of local government.  Our local governments are so corrupt (inc. NYC) that the cable companies are essentially given free rein.  This does not excuse the rapacious behavior of the companies, but the ability to demand better service and lower rates does exist in the present landscape.

    Antitrust analysis considers both geographic and product/services markets.  Under the former, there has never been competition between cable service providers.  The system was set up that way because of infrastructure demands.  The regulators are unlikely to find a problem with Comcast merely stepping into the shoes of TW in TW's current geographic markets.  

    The area of concern is in the product/services market.  The diary seems to conflate this market with the geographic market.  Franken's comment relates to the product market, not geographic market.  Comcast earlier argued that it would be constrained from raising rates on content providers because TW acts as a constraint on their market power (buyer power).  This is the area in which Comcast will receive pushback, especially since the content providers are large companies as well.  They will lead the opposition to the merger.

    The merger will not ultimately affect rates on customers because there is no decrease in competition for customers.  Again, the operating licenses (local governments) have the authority to regulate the rates.  The impact will be on the consideration content providers receive for having their content appear on Comcast's network.  If Comcast can drive down rates on content providers (think of Walmart and its product providers), the merger for impair the market for content, as it will become too costly to produce if its rates are constrained by Comcast.      

  •  I see a token amount of overlap (0+ / 0-)

    LA, Santa Barbara, southeast Texas, Kansas City, along the Connecticut River, southeast Alabama.

    "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

    by jfern on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:32:10 PM PDT

  •  So Is Net Neutrality Really Necessary? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, shmuelman

    You're Damn Right!

    News channels on both radio and television inundate Americans. Yet, on any given day, the political narrative on every TV and radio station seems to follow the same narrow topics. Where are the stories about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, China’s investments in Africa, the persecution and death of Aaron Swartz,  Edward Snowdon's whistle-blowing,  the continuing fallout from Fukishima, and dozens of other under-reported or ignored stories?

    When six corporations control more than 90% of media communications, the media does not inform, it indoctrinates. Corporate media provides selective information, often unreliable, for the express purpose of controlling public opinion, rather than informing it. The mainstream corporate media giants cannot be trusted to accurately report political corruption or collusion..."

    You Don't Happen To Make It. You Make It Happen !

    by jeffrey789 on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:44:30 PM PDT

    •  Net Neutrality needs to up there with water and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jeffrey789

      air neutrality. The entire American concept that there is no "commons," runs directly counter to the American concept of our soldiers dieing for our freedom.

      "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

      by shmuelman on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 07:11:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is there ANY corporate butt our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    political shills won't lick?

    ALL of our institutions have been hollowed out by the greed ethos. There are none left with heart intact or souls for that matter. So the zombie is all around us - me

    by glitterscale on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:57:08 PM PDT

  •  Cable should not be competitive (0+ / 0-)

    It should be regulated like the utility companies. For me, internet is not a luxury, is it a necessity. Comcast is too big to fail, internet is too central to our lives. They should be regulated, but not on a locality basis (see some of the comments) who have no clout with them. It should be regulated on a federal basis. The government should also be researching broadband transmission over existing power lines. For 10's of millions of Americans, our broadband internet is too slow, and it is very expensive.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 07:08:28 AM PDT

  •  Let them merge (0+ / 0-)

    The reason why FAUX is so popular is because of their large market. You can get FAUX where you cannot get other stations because they are not in the area. I see this as the free market so let them merge,

  •  Are People Just Waking Up? (0+ / 0-)

    Once competing independent gas station owners became controlled by the oil companies that served them it became open season on pricing in every aspect of American Living.

    As oil became the prime ingredient in more and more products the prices had to have the cost of oil more or less as a floor in their production.  The oil producers used the commodities markets to set the price of what they would sell their oil to the world for because they knew that Wall St would force that price to the highest possible but stop short of allowing another competing force to interfere with their profit making.

    After the corporate takeover era of the 80's we now have 10 major manufacturers that sell us 90% of the consumption products we use.  That prevents any competition from even being able to get a foot in the door for a new product.  If someone does manage to get that foot in the door and the product is truly seen as a threat it will be taken over with a cash payment from one of those 10 companies that any sane person couldn't walk away from.  Then most likely the product will be "disappeared" instead of creating a new production facility to actually manufacture the item it's just easier to sell the people what they already have to offer.

  •  That little hole in the first map, in Florida, the (0+ / 0-)

    one in the north central part of Florida, is where I live. No Comcast here, but it is all around us.  We have AT&T but only for the last 2 years, before that, satalite was the only way we got TV or internet service.  Now we have UVERSE, which I like, because it is cheaper than it was when we had to pay Dish and Hughes net.  Plus our phone is on it too.  They actually called me after my introductory price ran out and offered me another bargain, which I took.  But the price we pay for internet, phone and TV is still outragous.  If we had better cell service here I would do away with the house phone, but the service is sporatic and depends on what part of the house or property we are in.  I have cut down on channels in the past, but I have 2 guys living here who are insistant on certain channels being available.  So I pay the bill and groan every month.  

  •  Comcast dishonest enough without your lying, too (0+ / 0-)

    "TimeWarner owns:

    - Time Warner Cable SportsNet
    - Time Warner Cable Deportes
    - SportsNet LA
    - 26 local news channels
    - 16 local sports channels
    - Turner Broadcasting
    - Warner Brothers studios
    - The WB and Kids WB
    - Cartoon Network
    - Adult Swim
    - HBO
    - New Line Cinema
    - CNN"

    Even before Time Warner spun off Time Warner Cable as A COMPLETELY SEPARATE COMPANY, it was a subsidiary of parent Time Warner, Inc.  If the merger should go through NONE of the channels owned by Time Warner, Inc. -- not CNN, Turner Broadcasting, the Cartoon Network -- NONE of it will be a part of the new cable entity, nor will that entity enjoy preferential pricing to carry those services.

    I'm against the merger, too, but lying about or misrepresenting its details and circumstances doesn't do its opponents any credit.

    Oh, and Akadjian, you might also have spelled Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's name correctly.

    Do your homework before you write this stuff.

  •  Comcast as a cable provider is awful at best. (0+ / 0-)

    If this merger is allowed, and of course it will be because of the huge campaign donations it makes along with TWC, it will once again be at the great peril of the hapless consumers. That would be you and I, people. This whole thing reeks. We might as well rescind all the anti-trust laws so carefully put into place at one time. No one in DC is interested in enforcing them.

  •  Why hasn't anybody said (0+ / 0-)

    "cartel" on this diary?

    The 99% are watching.

    by unclejohn on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 12:38:55 PM PDT

  •  It's not just those two, (0+ / 0-)

    and it's not just SC; the various cable providers have divvied up the nation into 'territories', against the letter of anti-trust laws, but through loopholes sociopathic lawyers found for them.  Phone, cell, and internet providers have the same accesses.

    What we have is a closeted agreement between businesses who SHOULD be competing, in effect creating a mega-monopoly; all done under the radar, and with the blessings of the GOPigs.

    HAte to break it to all of them -- Obama's not the Antichrist, THEY are.

  •  So (0+ / 0-)

    I think it likely Comcast and TWC are guilty of price fixing. For if there were true competion prices would be going down not up. So maybe the dunderheads in Congress and at the FCC should be asking that question. Oh I forgot, politicians are unable to think like the average person.

    •  Yep. The problem is that by and large (0+ / 0-)

      they deregulated a utility (which is a monopoly of sorts) and  failed to introduce true competition.

      So if you really want lower prices and better service, we either have to go back to a more regulated market (where the FCC actually regulates the industry for the public good) or introduce real competition.

  •  Excellent diary. (0+ / 0-)

    Well reasoned and well supplemented. Thanks for taking the time and making the effort, it is much appreciated.

  •  Cable is all about profits now its each show (0+ / 0-)

    we pay for in the long run and is the name of the game, as they On Demand fleece consumers. Have a problem with On Demand? Oh, that's free they tell you and losing it for days, a $20 max credit they will toss your way. The fact that OD is where movies are rented, their streamflix brand, also at OD, as well as weekly over the air offerings, all through OD...HA and OD? that's supposed to be free?
    Short history, cable began by selling great reception as they strung cable everywhere(only when I lived near Aspen CO early 70s, getting Grand Junction TV, the closest big town over the mountains was it indeed a pain) but most everywhere else often rabbit ears worked good enough. So, cable wasn't available all over even locally yet while they put  together hardware cable, then, that done, they began selling on cable the idea Pay for what you watch each month, and no pesky TV commercials(and they got shows like HBO via satellite, so local reception still wasn't perfect). There were even short 8-10 minutes shows to fill in, as the over the air programming DID have TV ads, and the shows were shortened to accommodate. CNN was supposed to be America's station, so said Ted Turner, introduced he said CableNewsNetwork...for America.)CNN was a standard then uncorrupted by lies. And so, for a while selling cable as commercial free wasn't good enough so cable went to Congress to allow TV ads(cuz they just couldn't make enough revenue was the spiel), even though we kept paying the premium for our choices, needless to say downhill from there as we now pay big sums, have TV ad sponsors, shoving shit at us, and even paying for 24 hour loop movies scheduling lists aren't available widely, Comcast would have been gone long ago, but where do I go, Satellite is only other offering with its own problems.
    So cable is fleecing us as we pay cable companies to force us to pay for and watch the TV ads that sponsor the shows that we paid a premium for to begin with. And technology and electronics have gotten better, and is more reliable, and also the cable has been strung all over, so what are we paying so much for exactly? Aren't the airwaves and cable an asset of the people? Not for the spoiled CEOs and a way for them to throw their weight around?

    "There is far too much violence, inequality, & disrespect shown to women in the forms of sexism, misogyny and more, around the world, and it must stop, NOW, & I, as a male human being, pledge to do what I can to that end." -RNash

    by Ray984954 on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 02:49:46 PM PDT

  •  No competition (0+ / 0-)

    Comcast has a captive market which is why they can charge ridiculous rates and provide terrible service.  These are givens but is this any reason to allow Comcast to draw more people into its net.  It is not as if allowing the company to expand will lower rates or enable them to provide better customer service.  All the merger would accomplish is an increase in the number of dissatisfied customers.

  •  rllaugh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeninSC

    I am a long time Comcast sucker (subscriber) until last week that is. I started out with their introductory internet at $19.95 per month but eventually decided to add cable after purchasing my first HDTV. When I turned in my equipment last week I had graduated to triple play with two premium channels (HBO and Showtime) I decided to cut the cord when my bill for these services topped $200. Comcast just keeps going up and up as everyone who subscribes well knows. I am on SSDI and it just got more and more difficult to pay my bills and Comcast too. When my local housing authority who subsidizes my rent which actually made it possible to have these services informed me my portion of my rent would be going up due to the sequester by $149 per month that sealed the deal. I was allowed to put off the increase for 90 days but on April 1st that was gone and I decided ditching my cable bill was the only way to make ends meet. So that's what I did. I bought an indoor HD antenna, subscribed to HULU and Netflix and kissed Comcast goodbye. I probably will never go back. Al Franken is the Senator for my district and actually lives across the street from me. Not very long ago he sent an e-mail out to his supporters with a questionaire about our feelings on the merger. I responded of course with my concerns about the lack of competition in my area (Minneapolis) and my ever escalating cable bill. I was surprised when he didn't use some of the comments he must have received during the hearing. But maybe he wasn't allowed. I switched my internet service to a big competitor to Comcast here but as far as switching to satellite for my favorite channel HBO I'm screwed. My lease says no dish. So for me, Comcast is my only option. That makes them a monopoly in my eyes for me and I'm sure several thousand citizens here in Minneapolis with similar lease agreements. My government has let me down double with this issue. Higher rent due to the inability to compromise on the budget and allowing Comcast to be the only game in town for my entertainment wishes. I vote but we all know how the system works. My vote can't be for the numerous gerrymandered other right wing nut jobs who make it so damned difficult to get a voice in my government so for now I remain fed up but determined.

  •  where are the people? (0+ / 0-)

    they're in the lobby waiting to use the power of this ton of industrial koch.

    Firesign Theatre

  •  business? competition? really? (0+ / 0-)

    When the Telecommunications Act was passed in 1996 in an effort to "overhaul" the Communications Act of 1934, yet another piece of New Deal regulatory apparatus went into the trash heap.  Conservative proponents of the 1996 Act maintained that it would eliminate antiquated practices, increase competition among telecom providers, and bring significant savings to consumers.  Liberal opponents of the bill maintained that it would only lead to monopolies and consumers becoming trapped with no alternatives, forced to pay ever-increasing fees for the same services, or even less services.  Almost two decades later, and once again the conservative viewpoint proves to be utter fantasy with a liberal prediction coming true yet again.  Conservative (or any group of) investors don't want competition - they just want a guaranteed cash flow, and that's what all of their economic legislation is geared to produce.

  •  Well, we have had a local, (0+ / 0-)

    well, it WAS a local. Surewest, formerly Roseville Telephone Company, use fiber optics. When they came to install and take out Comcast, you could actually see the difference in the picture quality. We have amazing clarity, and internet speed. They were just sold, to whom, I forget. But, they were only located in the greater Sacramento California area and in Kansas City, Missouri. I will be miserable if we have to go back to Comcast, pos company.

  •  "shouldn't you have been competing?" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    Ah, yes ... back before our son was born (he'd have been 34 in July), our LaMaze instructor (a woman of extreme wisdom) said something to my wife & I that I've never forgotten - "Life is a crock of shoulds".

    The simple fact is that Comcast TWC and Cablevision DO compete - but NOT in any market that the average consumer can access or influence with his dollars.  The players in this market have rigged it such that the arena in which they compete is composed just about 100% of town council members.

    The scenario goes like this.  A construction contractor petitions a town council for building permits to construct a new housing development.  When and if these permits are approved, the window in which there is actual competition in the "bandwidth provider" market (in case you weren't aware, dear reader, TV, telephone and internet are effectively the same commodity nowadays - DATA! - and the limit on the rate at which you can access data is your "bandwidth") is cracked open.  Reps from Comcast, TWC, Cablevision & maybe one or two smaller players have a brief opportunity to ... lobby? ... influence? ... bribe? (choose your own favorite word for it) the contractor and the town board members for the right to wire their service into the new construction.  Unless you're the builder, or on the council (btw - look at the makeup of your own town board one day ... you may be surprised at how many members are in real estate or construction), you have NO SAY in the matter.  Once the trucks carrying the cable show up on site, the competition is OVER - before the first house is sold!  The process is similar for wiring cable into existing neighborhoods - it's the town council's decision.  Residents can attend council meetings and argue for one service or another, but they cannot decide for themselves.

    There are a million things to consider when deciding where one will live.  House or apartment?  Condo, Co-op or Rental?  How many rooms?  How are the schools?  Whose "wire" comes into the house to provide data connectivity is certainly among these considerations, but really, how high on the list is it?  If you found a home that's "perfect" in every way EXCEPT that it's in a Comcast neighborhood would you make an offer, or keep looking?

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 09:21:37 AM PDT

  •  Already no competition at all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    I'd swear Comcast and AT&T have made an illegal deal to not compeat in my town.  I see adds on TV every for AT&T internet service, but when I call about it they say it's not available in my zone.  

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