Merger opponent Franken expresses 'new hope' as Comcast, TWC prepare for pivotal DOJ meeting

As executives from Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) prepare to meet with U.S. Justice Department officials Wednesday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said in a TechCrunch op-ed piece that he now has "new hope" that the feds will reject the deal.

"Reports that attorneys at the Department of Justice (DOJ) may recommend blocking Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable are good news, because if this $45 billion deal goes through, it will create a telecom behemoth unlike anything we've ever seen before," Franken wrote in a piece posted on TechCrunch on Monday.

"The FCC's decision on net neutrality has given me new hope that, with a loud enough movement--with enough people like you organizing online, calling your members of Congress and writing to the FCC and DOJ--we might just be able to win another uphill battle," he wrote on the tech news site. "We might just be able to stop this deal before Comcast gains even more power to pad their profits at consumers' expense."

On Friday, Bloomberg reported that DOJ antitrust attorneys were leaning against giving the deal a green light. They are considering, the report said, turning the decision over to an administrative judge, which would not bode well for the marriage aspirations of the two cable giants.

Executives for Comcast and TWC are scheduled to meet face to face with DOJ officials Wednesday--the first time that's happened since the mega-merger was first announced 14 months ago.

The DOJ is expected to demand major concessions for its approval.

Also on Tuesday, Comcast released the following statement to FierceCable: "The benefits of the Comcast TWC deal are demonstrated and real. A better video experience--Comcast has twice as much VOD as TWC.  Faster broadband speeds-- today Comcast's are 25 percent faster than TWC's and we'll roll out faster speeds to more customers. More competition for businesses that economists estimate will save $8 billion for consumers. The country's best broadband adoption program for low-income Americans would come to new cities, and even more Americans will get connected for the first time.  These benefits all come with no reduction in competition for consumers. We'll serve less than 30% of the video market, and only about 30 million of the 87 million broadband subscriptions in the U.S."

For more:
- read this TechCrunch op-ed
- read this story from TheHill

Related links:
Comcast, TWC set to meet with DOJ following reports of merger blockage
Collapse of Comcast-TWC merger to have wide-reaching domino effect, analyst says
Comcast, TWC execs set to meet with DOJ to save merger; conditions will be 'substantial,' analyst says