Washington -- President Bush's nominee to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division, R. Hewitt Pate, has said that at this juncture he has no
plans or reason to look into Comcast Corp.'s relationships with programmers
following its merger with AT&T Broadband.
Pate, acting assistant attorney general for antitrust since this fall,
submitted answers to written questions he received following this recent
Multichannel News obtained a copy of the questions and answers from the
Senate Judiciary Committee.
Several questions, one of which cited a Business Week story, raised the issue
of Comcast and other MSOs having "undue market power over programmers."
Pate was asked if the Antitrust Division has any plans to examine Comcast's
behavior to ensure it stays within the proper bounds of antitrust law.
"The Division maintains an interest in ensuring that all companies, including
Comcast, stay within the proper bounds of the antitrust laws," Pate said in his
"If we receive information that leads us to believe that antitrust violation
may have occurred we will conduct an appropriate inquiry and take whatever
enforcement action may be warranted."
Answering an earlier question about whether he was concerned that increased
concentration in the cable industry enables cable companies to have undue market
power over programmers, Pate replied in similar fashion.
"Antitrust enforcers would be concerned if, through mergers that increased
concentration, cable companies acquired market power over programmers that could
lead to anticompetitive results. The division will examine any possibility that
increased concentration will lead to monopoly power that could have an adverse
effect on the economic incentives facing programmers."