Despite a groundswell of opinion, and the opposition of unions, community groups and dozens of elected officials, the FCC and Justice Department appear to be ready to approve the bad-for-consumers Verizon-Big Cable deal.
Media reports say that regulators are demanding conditions for the deal's approval. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department would drop its objections to the deal "after the companies agreed in principle to limit the duration of the joint ventures to five years or less, after which they will have to reapply for antitrust clearance for a new tie-up, people familiar with the discussions said."
And, Verizon and Comcast would not be able to cross-market telecommunications services where there is currently video, broadband, and voice competition. According to the Wall Street Journal, "That means that Verizon Wireless stores won't be able to sell Comcast's Xfinity service in regions where its parent company, Verizon already offers its FiOS service."
But these conditions don't go nearly far enough to alter the anti-competitive nature of the deal. That means:
- Verizon and the cable companies will be able to cross-market in Verizon's DSL territories. As Verizon discards its less profitable DSL customers, this means a cable and broadband monopoly in these areas.
- Cities like Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Albany, and Syracuse will be left on the wrong side of the digital divide, with no hope of FiOS build and competition.
- Massive job cuts, as Verizon cuts back on its FiOS build.
- Rural companies will have to compete with the combined resources of Verizon and cable.
For all these reasons, Speed Matters and CWA have campaigned vigorously to stop this job-killing, anti-competitive merger. We agree with anti-trust attorney David Balto, who, at a CWA press conference, said "No matter how you dress this up, [the deal] is just a cartel in disguise."
Verizon Deal Nears Regulatory Approval (WS Journal, Aug. 13, 2012)
Verizon, Cable Deal Approval Nears: Deal Coverage Area, Time Will Be Limited (DSLReports, Aug. 14, 2012)
Nadler, Higgins renew call to stop Verizon-Cable deal (Speed Matters, Aug. 10, 2012)