Al Franken Opposes Comcast-Time Warner Deal

Saturday, 15 Mar 2014 07:42 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Minnesota Sen. Al Franken stepped up his opposition to the proposed $45.2 billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner on Saturday with a petition drive seeking 100,000 supporters by midnight.

"This will be bad for consumers of cable TV and the Internet," the first-term Democrat said in an interview with CBS this week. "Consumers will end up paying more. There'll be less competition. There'll be less innovation and even worse service."

The drive follows a letter Franken sent on Thursday to the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission opposing the planned deal.

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If the merger is approved, Comcast would provide Internet service to about 40 percent of U.S. households paying for high-speed access, according to analysts.

The deal also has been opposed by Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. and other Internet service providers.

"I have serious reservations about this proposed transaction, which would consolidate the largest and second-largest cable providers in America," Franken said in the letter. "I urge you to act quickly and decisively to ensure that consumers are not exposed to increased cable prices and decreased quality of service as a result of this transaction."

He also noted that Comcast, based in Philadelphia, acquired 51 percent of NBC Universal in 2009 for $13.75 billion.

That deal gave Comcast control of NBC, the Spanish-language Telemundo — along with two dozen cable channels, including USA, Syfy, and The Weather Channel. It also gained several regional sports cable networks, Universal Pictures, and theme parks in the deal.
Franken also opposed that merger, he said in his letter.

In addition, the Time Warner proposal comes amid "ongoing questions as to Comcast's compliance with the terms and conditions set forth as part of the NBC Universal deal," Franken said.

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