FTC Assures Sensenbrenner on Adelphia Merger

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House Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has won assurance that the Federal Trade Commission will closely examine the takeover of Adelphia Communications Corp. by Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc., especially with regard to the ability of independent programmers to gain cable carriage.

In May, Sensenbrenner sent a letter to FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras expressing his concern about the Adelphia merger’s impact on cable-ownership concentration and program diversity.

“Growing concentration in this marketplace and attendant anti-competitive risks raise significant antitrust questions. Accordingly, I request that the [FTC] formally investigate this matter,” Sensenbrenner wrote.

In a June 15 letter to Sensenbrenner, FTC secretary Donald Clark said the commission had opened an investigation and would “conduct a complete evaluation of the potential competitive effects of the proposed acquisition that considers, among other factors, any trend toward increasing industry concentration.”

The Adelphia merger requires approval from the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission.

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