Dish: Comcast Could Use Deal to Choke Competitors’ Online Videos

The satellite TV provider urges regulators to kill the deal.

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 06: Hector Moreno installs a Dish Network satellite dish at a home on April 6, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Dish Network Corp, the second-largest U.S. satellite TV company, has purchased the assets of Blockbuster Inc in a bankruptcy auction for $320 million.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
Brendan Sasso
July 9, 2014, 12:54 p.m.

Satel­lite TV pro­vider Dish Net­work wants the gov­ern­ment to block Com­cast’s $45 bil­lion bid to buy Time Warner Cable.

Charlie Er­gen, the chair­man of Dish, met on Monday with Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion Chair­man Tom Wheel­er and oth­er agency of­fi­cials, telling them that the massive deal presents “ser­i­ous com­pet­it­ive con­cerns” for the TV and In­ter­net mar­ket­places, ac­cord­ing to a reg­u­lat­ory fil­ing re­leased Wed­nes­day.

Er­gen ar­gued that no num­ber of con­di­tions could ad­dress his con­cerns and that the FCC should kill the deal out­right.

He ex­pressed par­tic­u­lar con­cern that Com­cast would con­trol “choke points” on the In­ter­net that would al­low it to throttle ac­cess to com­pet­ing video ser­vices.

Dish sub­scribers can stream TV shows and movies on their com­puters and tab­lets, and the com­pany is plan­ning its own In­ter­net TV ser­vice. But many of those cus­tom­ers are ac­cess­ing that con­tent over Com­cast’s broad­band In­ter­net net­work, and Com­cast would gain ac­cess to mil­lions more broad­band cus­tom­ers if it com­pletes its pur­chase of Time Warner Cable.

Er­gen warned that Com­cast could put its own video in “high-speed lanes,” squeez­ing out the com­pet­i­tion.

“Each choke point provides the abil­ity for the com­bined com­pany to fore­close the on­line video of­fer­ings of its com­pet­it­ors,” the com­pany wrote in the fil­ing.

Net­flix, which had a dis­pute with Com­cast earli­er this year over dir­ect ac­cess to the cable com­pany’s net­work, also op­poses the mer­ger.

In ad­di­tion to his con­cerns about on­line video, Er­gen ar­gued that the mer­ger would al­low Com­cast to ex­tract lower rates for ac­cess to TV chan­nels. Those pro­gram­mers would then de­mand high­er fees from the oth­er TV pro­viders to make up for lost rev­en­ue, he claimed.

Sena Fitzmaurice, a Com­cast spokes­wo­man, said it “isn’t sur­pris­ing, and it isn’t new” that Dish doesn’t want stronger com­pet­it­ors.

“Dish has long been one of our most vig­or­ous com­pet­it­ors, and un­like us has a na­tion­al foot­print avail­able in tens of mil­lions of more homes than a com­bined Com­cast/Time Warner Cable,” she said.

Er­gen said that AT&T’s planned pur­chase of Dir­ecTV also “presents com­pet­it­ive con­cerns,” al­though he did not urge the reg­u­lat­ors to block it.

The FCC and Justice De­part­ment are re­view­ing both deals.

What We're Following See More »
FIRST TIME SINCE COLD WAR
Nuclear Bombers Preparing to Go Back on 24-Hour Alert
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991...Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the U.S. military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, President Trump’s confrontational approach to Pyongyang, and Russia’s increasingly potent and active armed forces."

Source:
TRUMP’S ATTORNEY WAS SET TO TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY
Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
2 days ago
THE LATEST
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login