Competitors and consumer groups filed protests with the FCC over Comcast and Time Warner’s takeover of Adelphia Communications, telling the commission that the deal would put too much power in the buyers’ hands.
Filings came in by the Thursday midnight deadline from DirecTV, overbuilder RCN Corp., the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and a combination of Center for Digital Democracy, Media Alliance and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Requests to block the deal came from unions Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, plus five counties in Florida.
However, arguments for approval came from Americans for Prosperity, the Progress and Freedom Forum and the Faith and Family Broadcasting Coalition (including TV preachers Jerry Falwell and Paul Crouch). DirecTV isn’t seeking to block the deal, but it asked for restrictions on the companies' ability to thwart the DBS provider’s access to key regional sports networks.
Most media critics protest the scale of cable operators’ national reach. DirecTV is making a relatively novel argument about the dangers of Comcast’s concentration in particular regions. Takeovers that strengthen cable operators' system "clusters" create substantial operating efficiencies and have have been key to the wide rollout of advanced Internet and phone services.
But DirecTV contends that the clusters also give cable operators "regional monopolies" that they use to hinder the DBS company’s access to regional networks, either by increasing prices or preventing any access at all.
RCN also wants restrictions that would force Comcast and Time Warner to disclose their deals with cable networks. That would let RCN – which runs competitive cable systems in New York, Chicago and Boston – see if the operators were getting unfairly lucrative terms from programmers. .