Advocacy groups opposing Comcast's $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable recently argued to the Federal Communications Commission that not even the new net neutrality rules will prevent the post-merger “MegaComcast” from thwarting Netflix and other online video competitors.
The critics -- who call their organization Stop Mega Comcast -- want the FCC to block the deal, which would vastly increase the company's broadband footprint. Among other arguments, the critics say that Comcast might not follow the new net neutrality rules, which prohibit broadband providers from from blocking or degrading traffic, and from discriminating among content companies. The rules also allow the FCC to take action if providers adopt practices that harm consumers or content companies.
Comcast fired back two weeks ago, with a letter dismissing critics' concerns. “It should not go unnoticed by the Commission that the fundamental premise of [Stop Mega Comcast's] filing is the insulting position that the Commission will not -- or will not be able to -- enforce its own rules,” the company wrote.
Comcast adds that the open Internet order empowers Netflix and other video distributors. as well as consumers, to bring complaints about alleged rule violations directly to the FCC.
“Even if [Stop Mega Comcast] apparently lacks faith in the Commission itself, it should be reassured that the potential 'victims' of the open Internet harms ... will have recourse to seek redress in the highly unlikely event any of them occurs,” Comcast says.
Today, Stop Mega Comcast argues in a new FCC filing that the net neutrality rules have so many loopholes that Comcast could “design around particular regulations, interpret them narrowly, and litigate them for years.”
“Comcast would like the public to believe that the open Internet restrictions have the clarity of 'thou shalt not steal,' that Comcast will not steal, and that this will remedy all anti-competitive effects stemming from the merger,” the organizations state. “In fact, they are not even a partial remedy.”
Stop Mega Comcast also takes issue with Comcast's assertions that online video companies and consumers could take any complaints to regulators.
“Comcast’s 'see you in court' attitude is just another part of the problem,” the organization writes. “Complaining parties can be sure that Comcast will litigate every complaint to its fullest and seek every possible avenue of delay... In other words, Comcast will continue to earn its reputation as a determined pugilist, and in so doing, suppress the willingness of all but the bravest, well-funded companies to come forward.”