Sanders Asks FCC To Block Comcast/NBCU Merger


Comcast/NBC Universal deal critic Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote the Federal Communications Commissioners Tuesday, telling them they should nix the proposed deal and that it would not be in the public interest "no matter how many conditions were attacked."

Essentially, Sanders' opposition boiled down to allowing another big media company to get bigger, particularly given evolving distribution models that the new company could exert control over.

"The sale of NBCU to Comcast would create an enormously powerful, vertically integrated media conglomerate, causing irreparable damage to the American media landscape....We do not need another conglomerate with control over the production and distribution of sports news and entertainment," he wrote.

Sanders cited the American Cable Association's study from former FCC economist William Rogerson that the deal could cost consumers an additional $2.4 billion - -Comcast has called the study flawed and said in a response at the FCC Monday that it was misleading and should be given "no weight."
Sanders took that figure and ran with it, saying that he thought it would be an obvious conclusion that the public interest would not be service ay "a regressive wealth transfer of $2.4 billion from ordinary citizens to what would be one of the largest corporate entities in the United States."

Sanders said that if the deal were approved, Comcast would have the incentive to favor NBCU over other content companies in its carriage negotiations. Comcast has pointed out that there are program access rules that prevent favoring co-owned cable content.

Comcast has also agreed to apply those rules to its retransmission-consent negotiations for NBC and co-owned Telemundo stations.
Sanders' letter comes as the FCC and Justice are widely believed to be wrapping up their reviews of the deal. The FCC's informal shot clock for reviewing the merger runs out next week.