Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Republican Fears Comcast Will Crack Down on Conservative Media Republican Fears Comcast Will Crack Down on Conservative Media

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Tech

Republican Fears Comcast Will Crack Down on Conservative Media

The cable giant's power would only grow with the Time Warner Cable deal.

Comcast denies it would discriminate against any TV channels.(Getty Images)

Sen. Mike Lee is worried that Comcast, which owns NBC-Universal, could discriminate against conservative media outlets.

"Considering the well-known political leanings of NBC, I've heard concern that Comcast might have the incentive and the ability to discriminate against certain political content, including for example conservative content," Lee, a Utah Republican, said Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Comcast's planned purchase of Time Warner Cable.

"And that capacity could be significantly enhanced as a result of this transaction," the senator warned.

 

David Cohen, a Comcast executive vice president, insisted that even after the merger, his company will lack the market power to discriminate against any TV channels—regardless of their political leanings.

Comcast has already promised to sell off Time Warner Cable systems in areas that cover 3 million subscribers. Cohen promised that that divestiture would give the combined company control over less than 30 percent of the TV market.

The Federal Communications Commission used to have rules that barred cable TV providers from controlling more than 30 percent of the market. The courts have thrown out those rules, but Cohen argued that the fact that Comcast will still come under the cap is a "compelling argument" that there shouldn't be a concern about unfair market power.

But Gene Kimmelman, the head of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, argued that Comcast's ownership of NBC gives the provider an incentive to discriminate against competing TV channels.

James Bosworth, CEO of the cable golf channel Back9Network, also expressed concern about Comcast's power to drop TV channels that would hurt NBC-Universal properties. The company owns its own golf-focused network, the Golf Channel.

In addition to providing cable TV service, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are also the nation's biggest broadband Internet providers.

To receive permission to buy NBC-Universal in 2011, Comcast agreed to abide by the FCC's net-neutrality rules. Those regulations require Internet service providers to provide equal access to all websites. Because a federal court struck down those rules earlier this year, Comcast is the only provider that is still barred from blocking or slowing down any websites (including conservative ones).

Despite that obligation, which expires in 2018, Kimmelman warned that Comcast will become a gatekeeper with unprecedented control over the Internet. 

This article appears in the April 10, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.

LIKE THIS STORY? Sign up for Tech Edge

Sign up for our daily newsletter and stay on top of tech coverage.

Sign up form for Tech Edge
Job Board
Search Jobs
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Structural Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | New Haven, CT
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Quality Systems Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Greensboro, NC
Rail Field Construction Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Jacksonville, FL
Manager, Quality Assurance
American Society of Civil Engineers | Memphis, TN
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
Civil Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Steamboat Springs, CO
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus