TONY CARDENAS: STOPPING THE COMCAST/TIME WARNER MERGER
CÁRDENAS STATEMENT REGARDING COMCAST / TIME WARNER CABLE MERGER ANNOUNCEMENT
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, today addressed the decision by Comcast to end their attempted merger with Time Warner Cable.
For months, Cárdenas was the lone voice in the House of Representatives speaking out against the proposed merger, first reaching out to both Comcast and opposition groups to better understand the merger, before eventually actively calling on the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission to block the merger.
Had the merger discussions continued, Cárdenas was also poised to file a full legal brief with the California Public Utilities Commission, calling for that agency to block the merger in California.
“Today is a victory for consumers, for content creators and for the economy of our nation,” said Cárdenas. “My concerns with the merger were not simply those of a parochial interest, focused only on my District. Instead, they were concerns about vertical integration and media dominance, the ability of independent voices to be heard and the rights of consumers to bring pressure on companies to make important changes was protected.
“I wish Comcast and Time Warner Cable nothing but the best in their activities as independent companies. I am very pleased that the FCC and Department of Justice conducted a thorough review of the merger that resulted in the best possible outcome for our nation. I applaud the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler and Attorney General Eric Holder for their efforts.
TIMELINE OF CÁRDENAS ACTIVITIES
May 2014: A “Cinco de Mayo” skit on MSNBC, ridiculing Latinos, brought a sharp focus on the lack of diversity at that network, both on camera and behind the scenes. Cárdenas and his colleagues on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with NBC and Comcast officials to voice their concerns.
July 2014: Cárdenas calls for an end to Time Warner Cable dispute with other cable companies in Los Angeles, which left 70 percent of the LA market unable to watch Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games. Cárdenas also led several of his L.A. area colleagues in sending a letter to the involved parties.
July 2014: Cárdenas discusses the Dodgers/Time Warner issue and the Comcast merger with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
August 2014: Cárdenas leads more than 50 of his House colleagues from across the nation, writing a letter calling on Comcast and Time Warner leadership to protect the independent voices in Latino media.
Cárdenas: “It is extremely important, both to my colleagues and me, that a great deal of care is taken to ensure that as many diverse voices as possible are available to the panoply of Americans who wish to seek them out.”
August 2014: Comcast Vice President David Cohen responds with a letter Cárdenas later called “insulting” (WSJ, 1/15)
August 2014: In a Bloomberg story entitled “Dodgers TV Row Fuels Unease Over Comcast-Time Warner Deal”, Cárdenas says, “The purchase of Time Warner Cable would give Comcast “an incredibly dominant position” because of its control of programming and subscribers”
September 2014: In The Hill, Cárdenas warns the Dodgers fight may harm the merger, as it shows the critical importance of vertical integration, “I think the FCC should watch that and I’m definitely watching that.”
September 2014: Following pressure from the FCC and Cárdenas, Time Warner agrees to show the final week of Dodgers baseball on an over-the-air local station.
Cárdenas: “When a cable carrier also owns a cable channel, there is potential for favoritism at the expense of others or unfair use of ownership to make its channel inaccessible to other carriers. I will continue to monitor this challenge in cable and TV issues that come before Congress.”
September 2014: Writers lobby members of Congress to block the merger due to its potential impact on diverse voices in media.
In coverage of the lobbying efforts, Cárdenas notes his commitment to promoting diversity in the entertainment and communications industries, saying, “I would never want my children to feel they had to change their name in order to be successful.”
October 2014: Cárdenas in The Hill: “Because this new entity will have such broad control over media production, distribution, cable and broadband, there is a natural chilling effect for many of those voices”
October 2014: The FCC extends the public comment period surrounding the Comcast / Time Warner merger.
Cárdenas: “The FCC clearly realizes that there are still voices that have legitimate concerns with the merger who still need to be heard.”
December 2014: Comcast Vice President David Cohen meets with Cárdenas and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to address diversity concerns.
January 2015: Cárdenas quoted in Wall Street Journal article – “Comcast’s Lobbying Machine Faces Test in Washington.”
January 2015: L.A. Times declares the merger “no longer inevitable.”
February 2015: Cárdenas urges DOJ and FCC to examine the proposed merger’s potential impact on smaller programmers, following a dispute between Comcast and Estrella TV, a Spanish-language station.
February 2015: Cárdenas officially announces his opposition to the proposed merger at a presentation hosted by Writers Guild of America, West.
March 2015: Comcast’s hometown newspaper notes “Little support in DC for Comcast-Time Warner deal,” noting Cárdenas, “said publicly last month the merger would "lead to less diverse content" and more expensive cable and Internet service.”
April 21, 2015: Washington Post: “as part of its Washington blitz, Comcast is turning to another powerful group to help make its case: Hispanic Americans.”
April 21, 2015: Los Angeles Times: “Six U.S. senators oppose Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger”
“’Comcast would have a tremendous amount of leverage in what Americans see and don't see,’ Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) said Monday in an interview. ‘They could decide which smaller programmers would be winners and which would be losers. This is why we have antitrust laws.’”
April 24, 2015: Politico: “Collapse of Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger shows limits of lobbying”