Comcast is on the defensive today in a filing with U.S. regulators. The $45.2 billion bid for Time Warner Cable will not be bad for competition and will allow the new company to invest more in its networks, Comcast said to the FCC in a filing yesterday.
Comcast accused media and tech companies that have aligned against the deal as doing so out of their own business interests . Well, yeah.
If regulators approve of Comcast’s $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, the combined company will reshape U.S. broadband markets. Comcast would control 35% of the broadband Internet service coverage in the U.S. And, have a presence in 16 of the 20 top cable markets in the U.S.
Opponents of the deal said a larger Comcast would allow the cable provider to push them around. Comcast slams back at this and said these allegations come after Comcast refused to “grant various self-interested requests.”
“The significance of this extortion lies in not just the sheer audacity of some of the demands, but also the fact that each of the entities making the ‘ask’ has all but conceded that if its individual business interests are met, then it has no concern whatsoever about the state of the industry, supposed market power going forward, or harm to consumers, competitors or new entrants,” Comcast writes in the filing.
“The commission should take heed of this, because, while the transaction is perceived as an opportunity for so many to leverage their individual interest, none has been able to make a fact-based, compelling argument that the transaction would actually harm the public interest,” the company added.
Netflix fired back in a statement of its own.
“It is not extortion to demand that Comcast provide its own customers the broadband speeds they’ve paid for so they can enjoy Netflix,” Netflix spokesman Jonathan Friedland said. “It is extortion when Comcast fails to provide its own customers the broadband speed they’ve paid for unless Netflix also pays a ransom.”
Comcast and Netflix agreed on an interconnection deal earlier this year. In the FCC filing, Comcast was quick to quote Netflix CEO Reed Hastings saying at the time, “We found middle ground on our issues that worked well for both of us for the long term, and works great for consumers.”
In its statement today, Netflix says it “grudgingly paid to improve performance for our mutual customers, a precedent that remains damaging for consumers (who ultimately pay higher costs) and for other innovative businesses (that can be held over the barrel by Comcast to do the same),” the company said in its statement.
“If the merger were to proceed, this one company, Comcast, would have control over the high-speed residential Internet in a majority of American homes and that is clearly not ‘great’ for consumers,” Netflix concluded.