Comcast is getting ‘unleashed’ too soon, Dem lawmakers say

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal
"Whether you’re a TV consumer, another cable company or a content provider, there’s good reason to be concerned," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal in an op-ed. (Image: senate.gov)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., continues to lobby for extension of the just-expired merger conditions placed on Comcast during its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011.

Blumenthal teamed with Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to co-byline an op-ed in Bloomberg today, headlined “It’s Too Soon to Unleash Comcast.”

“Just seven years after the $30 billion mega-merger between Comcast and NBCUniversal, the behemoth company has been freed from the temporary rules the Federal Communications Commission imposed to prevent it from discriminating against its competitors. Whether you’re a TV consumer, another cable company or a content provider, there’s good reason to be concerned,” the article reads.

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RELATED: Comcast-NBCU deal conditions should be extended, Sen. Blumenthal says

In December, Blumenthal wrote Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, to hold off on the sunsetting of the restrictions. 

In the Bloomberg piece, he redirected his query to the FCC. “If there are potential problems, the FCC routinely imposes conditions meant to protect the marketplace,” Blumenthal and Clyburn wrote. 

Among the most important restrictions enacted on Comcast, the pair added, the combined company was required to abide by the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules, it was barred from discriminating against competitors, and it had to provide affordable standalone broadband not bundled with other Comcast services.

“In spite of these safeguards, over the past seven years, Comcast-NBCU has found ways to leverage its assets in ways that harm consumers and competition, and some of these moves have violated the FCC's conditions,” the lawmakers added. “Just 17 months after the merger, the FCC took enforcement action against Comcast for failing to provide consumers with stand-alone, affordable broadband internet service. That same year, the FCC stepped in to prevent the company from discriminating against rival Bloomberg Television.”