You can expect to hear a lot more about the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable in the next few weeks as the US Federal Communications Commission decides whether to let it go forward. Here’s how the different sides in the debate are shaping up so far.
Free marketeers. Grover Norquist, the anti-tax campaigner and recent Burning Man attendee, is among the policy advocates in favor of the merger.
Some cable channels. Starz, Hallmark Channel, Ovation, the New England Sports Network and others have all issued letters in support.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable and their shareholders. Obviously.
Netflix. The video streaming service’s CEO, Reed Hastings, has been one of the loudest opponents of the merger and has been engaged in a number of public spats with Comcast over the way the internet works.
Senator Al Franken. The Minnesota Democrat and former comedian is probably the most prominent opponent of the deal in Washington.
Glenn Beck. From the other side of the political spectrum, the conservative talk show host has always been skeptical of big business. His company, The Blaze TV, is a member of the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition. “I believe that businesses should operate free of government intervention, but these companies [Comcast and Time Warner Cable] are government sanctioned monopolies with the power to silence independent, competitive voices like TheBlaze if it furthers their business interests,” Beck declared on his website. Unusually among opponents of the deal, Beck is also strongly against net neutrality.
Some conservatives who are not Glenn Beck. It might seem strange for Republicans to be anti-big business but Comcast is, after all, the parent of MSNBC, the 24-hour, arguably left-leaning cable news channel that conservatives criticize as being too supportive of US president Barack Obama. The Conservative War Chest, a political action committee, has been advertising against the merger. ”The last time Comcast needed a government favor we got Al Sharpton five nights a week. What will we get in exchange for a deal worth billions to Brian Roberts and other owners of Comcast?” Mike Flynn, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement reported by Bloomberg.
Some competitors. Satellite operator Dish Network, which recently launched an internet TV service, is listed as a member of the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition. Frontier Communications, a telecom operating in 28 states, has issued a letter opposing the merger.
Consumer groups. The Consumer Union has been taking out ads in the DC press this week calling for regulators to block the deal. It worries that a merger would lead to even worse service and higher prices for customers, a concern shared by other consumer groups.