Pallone, Eshoo want video marketplace hearing following AT&T-Time Warner deal

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D - Calif.) speaks at a House Energy & Commerce Committee meeting in Sept. 2015. Screenshot: CSPAN / YouTube

U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), both ranking members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, have called for a hearing in the wake of the AT&T-Time Warner merger announcement.

In a letter (PDF) to Subcommittee Chairs Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Eshoo and Pallone said the deal marks a good time to review the current state of the video marketplace.

“Video content continues to be a driving force in the future of communications. We have seen new and exciting innovations with over-the-top video offerings. As more consumers go mobile, the demand for content will continue. All of this activity generally means good things for consumers -- more programs, more choices, and options on prices.”

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“Given the current environment, it is not surprising that traditional communications companies are seeking to diversify and expand holdings of content. Our role in the Energy and Commerce Committee is to provide oversight of these markets and to gain better insight on the impact on consumers. Now is the time to the take the opportunity to explore these issues, and we look forward to your response,” wrote Eshoo and Pallone.

While Eshoo and Pallone call on fellow representatives to look at the broader implications of the proposed merger, lawmakers like Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are urging the FCC to review the deal.

“A review by the FCC would help prevent pay-TV gatekeepers from favoring their own content providers, and blocking minority, diverse, and independent programmers from reaching America's living rooms. A review by the FCC would help ensure that Americans can continue to enjoy watching all the content that should be available to them, and that their right to privacy is maintained even when technologies change,” Markey said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the proposed deal has drawn scrutiny from Senator Bernie Sanders, who asked the DoJ to block the merger, and Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who both warned that the deal deserves careful scrutiny. Trump went so far as to say his administration would never approve the deal because it consolidates too much power.

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