Controversial Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger To Be Examined at New York PSC Hearing

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  • Susan Lerner
Merger Gives Comcast Too Much Power & Will Hurt Consumers, Groups Warn

If Comcast and Time Warner Cable are allowed to merge, consumers can expect higher prices, fewer choices, and even worse customer service, according to groups opposing the deal. The controversial merger is the subject of Public Service Commission (PSC) hearings in New York this week.

“Comcast’s top executives like to call its merger with Time Warner Cable a bonus for customers and competition. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Mary Alice Crim of Free Press. “That’s why so many people have protested this deal – and the sky high prices, lousy customer service, and unacceptable market power that would result from letting too few companies control so much media in the United States. It’s time for elected officials at the local, state and federal level to reject the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger outright.”

If the merger is approved, the company will have access to more than two-thirds of all cable television customers and control nearly half of the high-speed internet market in the United States. Comcast would have even greater power if the FCC adopts its proposal to weaken “net neutrality” rules, a move that would allow Comcast to use its market power to prioritize certain online websites and service while

“Common Cause New York is committed to equality on the Internet, as well as quality cable, broadband, and telephone service for all New Yorkers. This merger would have a deleterious effect on the already disappointing quality of our telecommunications, and set the stage for systematic discrimination. We urge the PSC to reject the merger,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable earned low scores in Consumer Reports’ most recent survey of readers’ experiences with television and Internet services. The companies got particularly low marks when it came to value for the money and customer support.

“Both Comcast and Time Warner Cable have poor track records when it comes to customer satisfaction,” said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “Combining these two big companies into one giant behemoth will make things go from bad to worse.”

WHAT: NY Public Service Commission hearing on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger

WHEN: Thursday, June 19, 2014, 6pm: Informational Forum; 7:30pm: Public Statement Hearing

WHERE: NYS Department of Public Service, 90 Church Street, New York, NY

Fast Facts

The Philadelphia-based Comcast currently has 772,000 pay-TV subscribers in the New York Designated Market Area (DMA); 659K in NYC, 4K in Buffalo, 9K in Albany, 99K in Burlington, VT/Plattsburgh, NY

Time Warner Cable has 2.6 million pay-TV subscribers in the NY DMA: 1.2 M in NYC, with the remainder spread across Buffalo, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Burlington/Plattsburgh, Binghamton, Utica, Elmira, and Watertown.

Together Comcast and Time Warner Cable comprise a market share for pay-TV of 8% and 27% respectively.

Shares of wired video (i.e. excluding satellite): Comcast (10%), TWC (33%)

Shares of traditional cable video: (i.e. excluding satellite and telcoTV): Comcast (13%), TWC (42%)

Although specific data is not available on the DMA for broadband high-speed Internet, Time Warner Cable has offered testimony that it serves 2.3 million customers.