POLITICS

Elizabeth Warren Calls On Eric Holder To Block Comcast's Merger With Time Warner

04/21/2015 03:37 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2015
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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) was among the Democrats who sent a letter to top federal regulators on Wednesday urging them to block Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

"We write to urge the FCC and DOJ to reject Comcast's proposed acquisition," reads the letter, organized by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). "Should the transaction survive ... we believe that Comcast-TWC's unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services."

The letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler follows a host of reports indicating that both agencies continue to have deep reservations over the deal's antitrust implications. The letter was also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats.

Comcast and Time Warner are the two biggest cable and Internet service providers in the country. Their union would consolidate tremendous market power in a single firm, controlling nearly 60 percent of the broadband Internet market and almost one-third of the cable market. The FCC and Department of Justice are authorized to block mergers that foster anti-competitive power.

Comcast's awful customer service reputation has come under particularly close scrutiny, with consumer advocates arguing the firm is already so large that it can treat its customers poorly without facing consequences in the marketplace.

"We have heard from consumers across the nation, as well as from advocacy groups, trade associations, and companies of all sizes, all of whom fear that the deal would harm competition across several different markets and would not serve the public interest," the letter reads.

Comcast has lobbied both agencies aggressively in an effort to save the deal, even taking out ads in the D.C. subway system touting its Internet access program for low-income families. Even that initiative, however, has been plagued by customer service troubles.

In a statement provided to HuffPost, Comcast said the deal would bring existing Time Warner customers faster internet speeds and allow Comcast to expand its low-income internet access program. The company also said that its business clients (as opposed to households) would ultimately save $8 billion from the merger.

Warren's political career has focused on breaking up the economic clout of big banks. Signing the Franken letter on the Comcast merger reveals her concern with heavy concentrations of corporate power throughout the economy.

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