Today the FCC released a public notice establishing December 23rd as the close of the pleading cycle in the Time Warner Cable and Charter proceedings. We will continue to work with the FCC to complete its review of the transaction in the first quarter of 2015.
In another development today, a newly announced special interest group that is well funded by some of our competitors and opponents is attacking the proposed Comcast-TWC transaction. There's no real news here — a group of existing opponents making the same arguments they have already made and leveling essentially the same criticisms that have been leveled in the past, and weren’t found to be credible in our past transaction reviews.
While it’s no surprise that the same competitors and special interest groups who’ve gone after Comcast in the past are at it again, the record tells a very different story. Over the last several months, the FCC has received an outpouring of nearly 600 thoughtful and positive comments about the transaction from a wide range of supporters. Unlike most of the criticism, the support has been very transaction-specific.
This support includes more than 100 Chambers of Commerce and business organizations, as well as a wide array of small businesses, start-ups, and technology companies. It includes more than 20 programmers, nearly 200 diversity groups and community partners, and over 150 state and local leaders of both parties.
These Americans are supportive of the Comcast-TWC transaction because they understand the significant benefits it will bring to consumers and the broader public. By spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to upgrade the Time Warner Cable and Charter networks, millions of Americans will enjoy faster Internet speeds, better technology, greater access, and Net Neutrality protections. Comcast’s new investments will incentivize competitors to invest as well, fueling a virtuous cycle that will benefit consumers everywhere.
Many of our supporters also cite Comcast’s commitment to community initiatives like our Internet Essentials program. In the last three years, Comcast has connected more than 1.4 million Americans to the Internet – more low-income families than any other private or government effort in America — by far. If this transaction is approved, we are committed to extending the program indefinitely to the 16 of the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas in which we’ll operate. That’s why George Lambert, the CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League, writes that Internet Essentials is "expanding broadband adoption and decreasing the digital divide, which disproportionately affects families of color in low-income neighborhoods."
Despite what today’s special interest group may say, Comcast also has a strong record of supporting small and independent programmers. Today, Comcast carries over 160 independent networks, including 20 independent networks that have been added over the last few years, such as four with African American or Hispanic American ownership. Even the President and CEO of one of our local competitors, NESN, writes that Comcast "has a strong record of supporting independent sports networks – even those that compete with Comcast's own CSN. Indeed, Comcast has never discriminated against NESN ... [They are] a good competitor and [negotiate] fairly."
We understand the questions and concerns that arise any time two big companies merge. But as even our opponents concede, Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not currently compete for customers anywhere in America. That means that if the proposed transaction goes through, consumers will not lose a choice of cable companies. Consumers will not lose a choice of broadband providers. And not a single market will see a reduction in competition. Those are simply the facts.
There is a reason we want to provide our customers with better service, faster speeds, and a diverse choice of programming: we don’t want to lose them. We are living in a world where our customers have more and more places to go for content or video or Internet service. And so we want to compete. We want to invest. We want to offer world-class innovation and technology because it’s in our interest to do so. It’s for these reasons that Comcast has broad and diverse support from businesses, programmers, and community leaders who know that millions of Americans will benefit from this transaction.