Comcast, TW Defend Adelphia Deal

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Defending their $17.6 billion deal to seize control of Adelphia Communications Corp., Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc. are urging the Federal Communications Commission to reject claims that the merger would be bad for consumers and competition.

The merger -- which also involves strategic system swaps for better clustering -- has come under attack from direct-broadcast satellite providers DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., as well as consumer groups and a few small cable programmers, based on claims that Comcast and Time Warner can use their interest in about 40 million cable subscribers to make or break new channels and ensure that programmers on their systems don’t sell to satellite.

But in a lengthy rebuttal filed with the FCC late Friday, the MSOs said critics’ objections were based on selective or inaccurate readings of the law and market conditions, and the panoply of conditions recommended should be dismissed.

“[We] have clearly shown that the [merger] will yield demonstrable and verifiable public-interest benefits that could not be achieved absent approval of the transactions. Nothing in the opposing comments undermines, must less rebuts, this showing,” the MSOs said.

Last month, DirecTV and EchoStar demanded access to all Comcast- and Time Warner-affiliated programming (regardless of means of distribution) and a ban on exclusive contracts between the two MSOs and all programming providers.

The satellite carriers’ conditions were, among other things, designed to gain access to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and to ensure that regional sports networks around the country won’t refuse to sell to DBS due to exclusive deals with Comcast and Time Warner.

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