Comcast's Cohen pleads merger case to FCC officials

It was a busy week for Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and the FCC. First it was revealed that the cable operator was ponying up $110,000 to sponsor a dinner fete for FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn--later rescinded with the contribution directed elsewhere--then an electronic filing offered details of a meeting between Executive Vice President David Cohen with senior commission officials.

David Cohen, Comcast

Cohen (Source: Comcast)

In the meeting with senior FCC players Jim Bird, Hilary Burchuk, Hillary DeNigro, William Dever, Lisa Gelb, Jonathan Sallet and Philip Verveer, Cohen "reiterated the many compelling pro-consumer and pro-competitive benefits of the (Time Warner Cable) transactions."

At the same time, an electronic filing from Comcast to FCC secretary Marlene Dortch said Cohen argued that those claiming Comcast would control 50 percent or more of the broadband market had it all wrong. The company will only own about 35.5 percent of "the fixed-only universe of broadband connections and a 15.5 percent share when mobile broadband connections are included," the Comcast letter said.

Concerns about broadband market dominance, the letter said, should also be further alleviated because "Comcast and TWC serve almost entirely distinct geographic areas."

The same can be said for the video market where the combined company would "not pose any competitive concerns relating to the market for purchasing video programming," Cohen added.

At the same time, the company emphasized, smaller programmers like RFD.TV--a point of contention earlier in the week--shouldn't worry.

"Comcast carries over 160 independent networks and since 2011 has launched four new minority-owned or managed independent networks," the letter said.

RFD.TV, though, probably doesn't consider itself in the clear since Comcast also told the commissioners that its decision to carry a network is qualified by "balancing financial costs, opportunity costs, consumer demand and available bandwidth, among other considerations."

The rural TV network doesn't attract a very large audience outside rural markets, so in the eyes of an urban/suburban behemoth like Comcast it might not be viewed as "must carry TV."

Overall, the letter said, "we provided an overview of the status of the transaction review and approval processes at the Department of Justice and state and local levels."

For more:
- Comcast released a copy of this electronic filing

Related articles:
Comcast, TWC back off funding dinner for FCC's Clyburn
Local markets in Northeast, Michigan, Southeast deal with SpinCo ramifications
Comcast-TWC, AT&T-DirecTV megadeals have rural viewers worried
Comcast's Cohen warns of 'parochial business interests' behind diversity demand

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