Common Cause/NY Files Official Comment Opposing TWC/Comcast Merger
- Susan Lerner
PSC to render decision in October
Today, Common Cause/NY filed a seventeen page public comment with the Public Service Commission (PSC), outlining its opposition to the proposed merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corporation (Case #: 14-M-0183).
In February, Comcast announced a $45.2 billion deal to merge with Time Warner Cable. If approved, the merger would combine the largest cable and broadband provider with the number two cable company and third biggest broadband provider. As a result, Comcast would control over two-thirds of the country’s cable television customers and nearly 40 percent of the high speed Internet market.
In June, Consumer Reports released a poll, which found that just 11 percent of the public supports the merger, 56 percent oppose, and 32 percent have no opinion. Large majorities agree that the deal will hurt consumers by leading to higher prices, fewer choices, and reduced incentives to provide good customer service.
The PSC will render a decision in October.
Excerpted from the comment:
“Comcast has a history of imposing data caps on its customers internet usage, a highly controversial and unpopular action. The policy proved so unpopular, Comcast suspended it in 2012. Now, a Comcast executive has publicly stated that Comcast will impose “usage-based billing” – i.e., data caps – on all of its customers within five years.
TWC does not limit the internet usage of its customers, in New York or elsewhere. TWC sees this as a competitive advantage, as on its website it states “TWC has unlimited Internet with no overuse penalty.” The promise of imposition of data caps limiting internet usage by New York customers should the Joint Petition be approved must be regarded as a detriment to the public. It is yet another area in which Comcast seeks to improve its bottom line at the unreasonable expense of the public.
It is a truism that for more than a century, our law has recognized that in a choice between ever higher corporate profits or a reasonable rate for the public, what is just for the public is appropriately balanced against the profit of the corporation:
“It cannot be said that a corporation is entitled, as of right, and without reference to the interests of the public, to realize a given per cent upon its capital stock…. The public cannot properly be subjected to unreasonable rates in order simply that stockholders may earn dividends. Covington & Lexington Turnpike Road Co. v. Sandford, 164 U.S. 578, 596-7 (1896).
Yet, it is a principle which Comcast appears to have forgotten. Such blatant rent-seeking is not in the public interest and should not be countenanced by approval of the Joint Petition.”