Dish Network Blasts Comcast and Time Warner Merger
As lawmakers ready themselves to take a long, hard look at a merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, satellite TV provider Dish Network has come out saying the entire deal should be denied.
At stake, Dish says, is a trickledown effect that will make life difficult for others in the industry. Dish Network met with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) July 7.
"There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger," said Jeffrey Blum, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for the company, in a filing with the FCC.
The new Comcast-Time Warner would "exercise its enormous size to leverage programming content in anti-competitive ways," Blum said. "It will be able to extract lower prices from programmers, which, in turn, will force programmers to extract even higher rates from smaller pay-TV providers like Dish in order to compensate the programmers for lost revenue."
"Dish not wanting stronger competitors isn't surprising and it isn't new," said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
"Dish has long been one of our most vigorous competitors, and unlike us has a national footprint available in tens of millions of more homes than a combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable," she said in an email to the publication.
A combined Comcast-Time Warner company would have around 30 million subscribers, according to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. By comparison, Dish Network has around 14 million and Netflix boasts 35 million.
Regulators are just beginning the lengthy process of deciding whether a merger between the two largest cable providers in the United States is good for competition.
The FCC recently named the team that will be looking at the Comcast-Time Warner deal. Led by former Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust lawyer Hillary Burchuck, the group will scrutinize the $45 billion deal. Burchuck played a role in the Comcast-NBC Universal merger in 2011.
"Horizontal competition won't be the only way they look at market dynamics and the competitive effects of the transaction," Jamillia Ferris, head of the committee reviewing an AT&T-DirecTV merger, told Variety in May. "For example, you can expect that they will examine whether the combined company will have enhanced buying power that results in less or lower quality output when negotiating with content providers. DOJ may also analyze whether that power harms competition with other media companies trying to access content."
Dish Network is not involved in any pending mergers, although the company has tried to acquire MetroPCS, Clearwire, Sprint and DirecTV.
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