"Free expression online and on television will be worse off as a result of today's action," said Media Access Project president Andrew Schwartzman in a statement responding to the Federal Communications Commission's 4-1 approval of the Comcast/NBCU joint venture, which he said would be "devastating" to free speech.
Schwartzman had long signaled there were effectively no conditions that would make the deal palatable to his group. He was concerned not just about this deal, but the signal it could send to others who may feel they need to heavy up.
"Perhaps the worst thing about today's announcement is that it sends a message to other phone and cable companies that they, too, can buy up content providers. We may be about to see a new wave of media consolidation as a result," he said.
"Today's decision by the FCC represents a failure of the agency to live up to its own public interest mandate, as well as Barack Obama's promise to promote media diversity and prevent excessive media concentration," said Free Press president Josh Silver. "This deal will give Comcast unprecedented control over both media content and the physical network that delivers it. The FCC has opened Pandora's Box, and we can soon expect a whole new swarm of mega-mergers that will have dire consequences for media and the Internet."
Both Free Press and MAP applauded FCC commissioner Michael Copps for voting against the deal.