updated 08:00 pm EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Resulting company could have means to leverage control over the broadband pipe
In a memo from Dish Network's Senior Vice President and Deputy General Council Jeffrey Blum to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a series of meetings on July 7 indicate that the company has raised issues with the prospective merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Believing that the combined business could utilize "choke points," it could leverage control over broadband to do harm.
"The pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger presents serious competitive concerns for the broadband and video marketplaces and therefore should be denied," said Blum. "There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger."
The harms that Blum speaks of are the three "choke points" that the merged company would be able to control in the broadband pipeline. These choke points are said to cause problems with over-the-top video services. Dish believes that the combined Comcast/Time Warner Cable company would have an incentive to flex its control of the pipe to undermine services that are seen as competing, such as Netflix and Hulu.
Three points -- the last-mile Internet public channel, the interconnection point and specialized service channels -- could be used in a number of ways to "choke" other services. The satellite company believes that any of these points could be used in an unfair manner, "squeezing the capacity of the public Internet portion of the pipe." In doing so, competing video services could be "foreclosed" upon.
Comcast/Time Warner Cable could also use its size to leverage programming deals in a way that could be considered anti-competitive. Dish thinks that the deals could raise rates from other companies seeking programming due to the lower prices the merged company could strongarm out of content providers. Digital rights to paid television providers and over-the-top video services could see restrictions as well.
On top of the potential issues with the Comcast/Time Water Cable deal, Dish expressed concerns over AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV. Dish believes that if the acquisition was to go through, the combined market power could be used to leverage content in a detrimental manner.
Consumer input on the Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal opened today through the FCC's online comment system. The public has until August 25 to file any contents or petitions.