Earlier this year it was announced that Time Warner Cable would merge with Comcast – the largest media and communications corporation. According to the Institute of Media and Communications Policy, in 2011, Comcast had over 23 million cable/internet customers in the United States alone. The merger is projected to give Comcast 8 million of Time Warner Cable’s subscribers, totaling up to 30 million customers for Comcast. The merger, according to the announcement is expected to close by the end of the 2014 year.
Many Americans, organizations and even Senators like Al Franken (D-MN), have expressed concern about the merger asserting that the merger would not benefit consumers. Free Press, an organization dedicated to changing unfair media and technology policies, has compiled four handy infographics that show why the Comcast and Time Warner Cable union spells bad news for cable and internet customers.
“Citizens should be concerned, or anyone, who uses the internet in the United States because it represents a consolidation of the internet access business in a way that is anti-consumer and anti-competitive,” said Timothy Karr, Senior Director of Strategy for Free Press. “You have the number one cable internet company gobbling up the number two internet cable company to an extent where nearly 40 percent of broadband access in the U.S. would be controlled by one company. That’s a problem for consumers.”
According to the infographic, Comcast has a history of increasing its prices for both TV and internet access. Between the years of 2009 to 2013, Comcast has increased it’s TV pricing by about 68 percent. Internet hikes follow at a fee hike of 21 percent. An interview with Executive VP for Comcast, David Cohen also doesn’t reassure customers that their TV cable and internet bills won’t suffer as a result from the merger.
Karr also added that Comcast has had a history of blocking competitive services on the internet. File-sharing services such as BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella have all suffered in the past from Comcast traffic blocks. “The only entity that will benefit from this merger is Comcast and Time Warner. Those of us who want affordable access to a fast and open internet will suffer,” said Karr.
Reports by the Pew Research Center find that households earning least $50,000 per year are more likely to have a home broadband connection than those at lower income levels. In a time where more than half of workers are earning $30,000 or less, an increase in broadband internet prices doesn’t seem beneficial for most of the U.S. population. Karr advises consumers to contact their members of Congress, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Communications Commission to express their concerns.
“The United States has been progressively falling behind a number of other developed countries, [such as] Europe [and] Northern Asia, who have managed to give their citizens more affordable access to high speed internet services,” said Karr. “This merger represents a step in the wrong direction. In order for people to have quality services for cable and internet at an affordable price, they need a competitive marketplace for choice.”