Groups weigh in on AT&T-Comcast deal

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A total of 38 consumer groups and media watchdogs asked the Federal
Communications Commission Monday to block the proposed merger of AT&T
Broadband and Comcast Corp.

'The proposed merger of these two cable giants has enormous implications for
the future health of our media culture,' said Jeffrey Chester, executive
director of the Center for Digital Democracy. 'It will tilt the broadband
playing field in such a way that the very hallmarks of the Internet -- openness,
competition, diversity -- will give way to the closed, tightly controlled
platform of cable. And that's simply too high a price to pay.'

Petitions to deny the merger were due Monday.

Other groups joining the petition to deny included Media Access Project, the
U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Association of Independent Video
& Filmmakers.

Dangers posed by the merger include consolidation of too much control over
broadband architecture, abuse of personal information, dominance of interactive
set-top design and abuse of market power to obtain stakes in cable programming
and equipment manufacturers, they said.

The American Cable Association said it does not oppose the deal 'at this
point,' but it called on the FCC to make sure AT&T/Comcast distributes
cable-network programming to small systems on reasonable terms and eliminates
exclusive contracts that block some programming services from reaching small
systems.

The Progress and Freedom Foundation -- which promotes deregulation as the
best way to bring new technology to customers -- called on the FCC to approve
the deal with no conditions.

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