Web Giants Join Comcast, NBCU Merger Opposition

Opposition to Comcast’s proposed acquisition of 51 percent of NBC Universal continues to grow even as regulators near a decision to approve the transaction. On Monday (Nov. 29), NetCoalition—representing Internet companies such as Amazon, eBay, Bloomberg, IAC/InterActive Corp., Google and Yahoo—joined the Coalition for Competition in Media, a group of 24 groups that oppose the deal as currently proposed.

The deal is in the home stretch of review by both the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission and could be approved by the end of the year. Optimistic that they can close within weeks, Comcast recently named its executive management that will run the combined media company, a controversial, yet typical move for big mergers.

While Comcast and NBCU prepare for approval, a wide variety of public interest groups and stakeholders continue to raise concerns about the deal including a lack of competition and diversity, higher costs for consumers and lack of access for independent producers and creators.

“The Internet remains one of the most dynamic forces in our economy, one that provides choice and access to millions of users worldwide. This merger puts too much of that resource in too few hands,” said Markham Erickson, executive director and general counsel for NetCoalition. “We are concerned this merger will create a vertically and horizontally integrated media behemoth that will smother competition, diminish choice and reduce broadband network investment all while raising prices for consumers.”

Comcast played down NetCoalition’s move to join the other opponents of the merger. “As the FCC record demonstrates, by any measure, this transaction affects only a small part of the broadband access market and the online content marketplace. While a small number of self-interested competitors have voiced concerns, the overwhelming evidence in the FCC record shows this transaction will benefit consumers by bringing them more choice and the anytime, anywhere future faster,” Comcast said in a statement.