Rep. Cárdenas Opposes Comcast/TWC Deal

Calls on Government to Block Proposed Merger

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) Wednesday came out strongly against the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, calling on the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice to block the proposed transaction.

At a Writers Guild of America West event in Washington Wednesday--the guild is also a critic of the deal--Cárdenas said he had heard from both sides and concluded that he was strongly opposed.

“The proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger is a tipping point in the American media and broadband industries and would encourage a market that is not free, but one that limits innovation, diversity of programming and competition,” Cárdenas concluded.

The Congressman has made it clear he was no fan of the deal.

Cárdenas last week was circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to other members of Congress asking them to write the FCC and the DOJ, which are vetting the deal, to make sure that independent programmers are not harmed in the making of that meld. A spokesperson for Cárdenas said that letter would be going out today, but did not have a list of the signatories at press time, although a source said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) was one of them.

But the Congressman had not yet declared himself squarely against the deal, which he has now done, pointing out that he was "one of the first" members of the House--or looked at another way, one of the only members--"to publicly oppose a proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger."

Cárdenas had invoked the Comcast-Estrella TV carriage impasse and linked that dispute to the TWC deal and prospects for independent networks to get carriage.

Comcast already distributes Estrella TV programming broadly as Estrella’s largest distributor and we have been negotiating in good faith for months with Liberman Broadcasting to continue carrying its broadcast signals in these three markets, which represent only 20 percent of our total Estrella distribution," Comcast said last week. "Most importantly, Comcast is not dropping Estrella – it is Estrella that has decided to pull its signal from Comcast customers.  In fact, we’ve offered to continue to carry their stations under the existing arrangements, which are the same terms we have with other, comparable networks."

"Estrella’s issues have nothing to do with our pending transaction, but are just another example of a business seeking to advance its own business interests in an attempt to game the merger review process," Comcast said in a statement in response to the congressman's annoucement.

Cárdenas has been critical of both Time Warner Cable and its deal to merge with Comcast. Last summer, he asked the FCC to mediate the carriage dispute between Time Warner Cable and various distributors over carriage of SportsNet LA and the Los Angeles Dodgers.