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Franken: Comcast violating terms of merger

Senate Judiciary Committee member Al Franken (D-MN) publicly protested the behavior of Comcast and the FCC's failure to take action against the cable giant, while saying these problems bode ill for the pending Verizon/Comcast deal.

Franken released a letter to the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Comcast is violating conditions of its 2011 merger with NBC-Universal, and that the FCC has been lax in enforcing those conditions.

Specifically, Franken objected to "Comcast's decision not to impose its 250GB residential data cap on those who stream Xfinity TV content via the Xbox 360." By favoring its own data over those of its competitors, Comcast could be in violation of net neutrality rules. Said Franken, Comcast's disregard of data caps, "raises serious questions about how Comcast will favor its own content and services to the detriment of its competitors."

But Franken's complaint was directed equally at the FCC for what he saw as a lackadaisical approach to enforcement. "I am concerned," wrote Franken, "that if the Commission fails to address conditions disputes in a timely manner," that would only encourage Comcast to drag out legal proceedings.

Finally, Franken told the FCC and the DOJ to take these complaints into account when evaluating Verizon's proposed spectrum deal/cross-marketing arrangement with Comcast and other cable companies. Franken warned the FCC:

"I am particularly concerned that this type of coordination and collaboration will only further harm consumers and will throttle competition in the online video space, and I urge you to closely examine these issues in the course of your investigations."

Links:

Franken Questions Comcast's Commitment to Net Neutrality (pcmag.com, May 7, 2012)

Comcast's Xfinity-on-Xbox Plans Draw Net Neutrality Fire (pcmag.com, March 26, 2012)

Category: Open Internet, Consumer Protections and Good Jobs, Discrimination, Entertainment and Gaming, FCC, Federal Legislation, Justice Department, Television