On April 24, Comcast announced that it is withdrawing its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable due to opposition from the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission.
This is huge. It means that our nation's anti-trust laws, enacted through the leadership of Republican reformer President Theodore Roosevelt, are alive and well, even in the 21st century broadband economy.
Perhaps most important, however, it means the emergence of an unprecedented coalition of conservatives, progressives, and consumers that successfully opposed the transaction.
I should know; I was one of those opponents.
At the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the proposed merger, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, voiced concerns about an empowered Comcast that, through its mainstream media darling NBC-Universal, would discriminate against conservative viewpoints.
At the same hearing, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., raised the possibility of a merged Comcast/Time Warner Cable choking off competition in the emerging online video space.
These strange bedfellows on Capitol Hill were replicated in the wonderfully diverse coalition of merger opponents, from conservative network The Blaze to the labor union Writers Guild West, and consumer advocacy groups like Consumers Union.
I, the former Clinton White House staffer, joined forces with my friend and colleague, Brad Blakeman, a veteran of the George W. Bush White House, to oppose the merger on behalf of Sports Fans Coalition and DISH Network, among others.
What does this tell us?
I believe it tells a story of how pro-consumer populism still unites otherwise opposing poles of the political spectrum. The largest corporations in America ultimately want to preserve the status quo and their own ability to do whatever they please.
Sometimes this hubris is expressed in terms of free market, anti-government rhetoric of the right, sometimes in the gauzy language of charitable contributions and identity politics of the left. Always, though, it is motivated by the bottom line of the big boys. The "corporatocracy" is a powerful force in America and used to winning.
Every now and then, though, the little guy wins. Even in the context of this transaction, where the "little" companies relative to Comcast included Netflix and DISH Network, the odds were against a total rejection of the merger. Press reports upon the deal's announcement ranged from sycophantic to slobbering, claiming the near certainty of an approved deal.
Something happened on the way to inevitability, though. Hundreds of thousands of consumers wrote to the FCC opposing the deal. Independent content providers risked retribution to oppose the deal.
And facts, those pesky, persistent, insistent little facts, actually made their way into the decision-making process. Facts that showed how Comcast systematically tries to restrict competition from online video providers, how the combined company would have controlled well over half of all residential broadband connections nationwide, and how Comcast thumbed its nose at prior merger conditions, holding itself above the law.
The facts and politics lined up, leading law enforcement agencies to come to the right conclusion.
This is a great day for the American consumer, regardless of political affiliation. That should make us all feel better about the state of our country.
David Goodfriend is a Washington, D.C., lawyer and former Deputy Staff Secretary to President Bill Clinton. To read more about David Goodfriend, and his reports, Go Here Now.
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