We’re Not Buying Comcast/Time Warner Claims

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People aren’t buying the bafflegab being spouted by mega moguls claiming that the $45.2 billion merger of cable TV giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable would benefit consumers.

A whopping 56 percent of American oppose the deal, while only 11 percent say they support it, according to a poll released Thursday by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. For some reason  32 percent claimed they had no opinion.  Maybe they thought nobody would listen to them.

People simply didn’t buy the supposed benefits Comcast has been touting. Only 16 percent agreed that the merger will allow Comcast to operate more efficiently and lower its costs, and result in lower prices for consumers.  Just one-third of respondents agreed that the merger would allow the two companies to combine their capabilities to develop new innovative products and services for customers.

“Most Americans don’t have time to follow complicated corporate mergers but this deal has definitely captured the public’s attention,” said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union. Consumers are tired of rising monthly bills and lousy customer service for cable and Internet and have little faith that this mega merger will make things any better.”

The on line poll was conducted in April using a panel of 1,573 individuals aproximating a national sample.  Here are some other key results:

    •    74 percent of Americans agree that the merger will result in higher Internet and cable prices for everyone.
    •    74 percent of Americans believe consumers will have fewer choices when it comes to cable and Internet providers because smaller companies will not be able to compete with Comcast.
    •    66 percent believe that Comcast will have little incentive to improve customer service because of the lack of competition.  54 percent of respondents said they thought customer satisfaction will get worse if the merger is approved.
    •    81 percent of Americans are concerned that Comcast’s increased market share will enable it to favor its own programming over its competitors’ if the merger is approved.  Comcast currently owns several broadcast and cable TV channels as a result of its previous merger with NBC Universal.

“Comcast and Time Warner Cable have consistently scored poorly when it comes to customer satisfaction so it’s no surprise that Americans are skeptical of this proposed deal,” said Derakhshani of the poll results.  “Most consumers expect the merger will turn things from bad to worse.”

We’ve written to both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission urging them to block the deal.  Last week the prestigious American Antitrust Institute issued a white paper opposing the merger. Justice must decide if the mega deal violates antitrust laws and the FCC will decide whether it’s in the public interest.

The public clearly gets that the merger is anticompetitive and isn’t in the public interest. I can only hope the DOJ  and FCC agree.

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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