Currently pending approval from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), two telecom industry mega-deals have the potential to change the landscape of television as we know it. Comcast’s buyout of Time Warner Cable is estimated at $45 billion and would give the resulting company the largest market in the United States. Also in the works is a potential merger between AT&T and DirecTV, estimated at around $49 Billion. Perhaps not surprisingly, other entertainment providers have spoken out against theses potential deals, and this week Dish Network asked the FCC directly to block the Comcast deal.
During multiple meetings with FCC members on July 7, Dish, the second largest satellite television provider in the US, discussed its plans to participate in upcoming spectrum band auctions, and aired concerns relating to the mergers.
Specifically, Dish said that the pending Comcast/TWC merger posed a considerable competitive issue for it and other smaller TV providers.
In a summation of meeting released by the FCC on July 9, Dish said, “There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger. High-capacity cable broadband connections are the lifeblood of over-the-top (“OTT”) video services. Among other things, the combined company would have an increased incentive and ability to leverage its control over the broadband pipe to undermine these services.”
This issue has been raised before. When Comcast made its case to the FCC earlier this year, it argued that it has increasingly had to compete with on-demand services like Netflix and Hulu, and with technologies that provide access to those services, like video game consoles or Roku boxes for example.
However this undermines the fact that in most areas where that competition happens, Comcast owns the broadband networks needed to connect these devices and provide the service. The deal would put the company in charge of even more broadband infrastructure.
Dish also said that, the AT&T DirecTV deal would allow the two, “to combine their market power to leverage programming content, to the potential detriment of consumers.” While those concerns are not as pointed as the ones Dish raised about Comcast/TWC, they’re certainly something the FCC will want to investigate as it reviews these deals further.