Senate Hearing on Verizon Purchase of Cable Spectrum Set

Antitrust Subcommittee to hold hearing on March 21
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The Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, chaired by Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), has scheduled a hearing on Verizon's deal to buy spectrum from cable operators for March 21.

A Kohl spokesperson had confirmed for B&C/Multi on Feb. 1 that the hearing was in the works, suggesting it was the committee simply doing its oversight job.

"The subcommittee carefully examines questions about competition in the wireless and video markets, with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers and reducing their cable and cell phone bills, and these deals are no exception," Kohl said in a statement at the time. Following a hearing on the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger, which was also billed as a spectrum deal, Kohl asked Justice and the Federal Communications Commission to block the merger, which they ultimately did.

Verizon has struck a deal to buy the spectrum assets of SpectrumCo, the cable consortium, and from Cox, a former member of SpectrumCo.

SpectrumCo is a consortium owned by Comcast (63%), Time Warner Cable (31.2%) and Bright House Networks (5.3%), which bought the spectrum in the FCC's 2006 advanced wireless services auction along with Sprint Nextel, which was bought out by the other consortium members in 2007.

Cox left the consortium in 2009, taking its spectrum with it. Verizon is offering $3.6 billion for the SpectrumCo holdings and $325 million for Cox's spectrum, subject to FCC approval.

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