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
See more stories about...
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 »
ALL 100 SENATORS
Dem Senator Calls North Korea Briefing “Sobering”
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
SAYS CLINTON ADMINISTRATION BASICALLY GOT IT RIGHT
Pai Announces Plans to Roll Back Net Neutrality
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even as he acknowledged the importance of an open internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday set his telecom agency on a course to scrap the tough, broad net neutrality protections imposed by the Obama administration. During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors." Separately, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie that the Clinton Administration "basically got it right when it came to digital infrastructure. We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."

Source:
WILL ANGER CONSERVATIVES
White House to Continue Paying Obamacare Insurers
8 hours ago
BREAKING
LOFTY GOALS
White House Proposes New Tax Plan
8 hours ago
BREAKING

The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

Source:
ORDERED BY PRESIDENT
DHS Launches Office for Victims of Crimes by Immigrants
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), as called for in a presidential executive order from January. The new office's website states that its staff "will be guided by a singular, straightforward mission—to ensure victims and their families have access to releasable information about a perpetrator and to offer assistance explaining the immigration removal process."

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