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These Local Mayors are Shills for Comcast and Time Warner (Updated)

By David Bloch | 08/25/2014
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UpdateIn an e-mail sent to OnlyInBoston on Thursday, Mayor Christenson clarified his stance on the merger:

“The main reason why I am supporting the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is because I believe that combined, they will have the ability to improve online services with faster internet speeds, provide more reliable and secure networks, lower costs and offer more varied programming. The merger does not decrease options for our residents. […] An additional reason I support the proposal is because Comcast has a customer service location here in Malden and the company employs many of our residents. They have also been great community partners with the City’s environmental efforts. For at least the past three years, on their Comcast Cares Day, they have provided us with hundreds of their employees to tackle the cleanup of the Malden River.”


 

Last week 50 mayors from around the country announced their support for the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. Four mayors from Massachusetts were on the list: Gary Christenson (Malden), Michael McGlynn (Medford), Daniel Rizzo (Revere), and Kevin J. Dumas (Attleboro).

In a signed letter sent to the FCC on August 21 the mayors claimed, “The combination of these two American companies will bring benefits to every affected city.”

“Cities joining the Comcast service area will benefit from increased network investment, faster Internet speeds, improved video options and leading community development programs to help us tackle important community challenges like the digital divide. Existing Comcast markets will enjoy the benefits of a company with the scale and scope to invest in innovation and deliver products and services on a regional basis.”

The mayors’ letter to the FCC emphasizes two potential benefits of the deal:

  1. Bringing Time Warner Cable speeds “up to Comcast levels.”
  2. Bridging the so-called “digital divide” through the expansion of the ‘Internet Essentials’ program, which offers discounted internet access to low-income families.

The Internet Essentials program is the only incentive that would apply to the Boston area, since Comcast already dominates Eastern Massachusetts.

The controversial proposed merger of the two largest (and most hated) cable and internet providers in the country is currently being reviewed for approval by the FCC and Justice Department. Over 50 consumer advocate and media watchdog organizations have come out in opposition to the consolidation. From a letter sent to the FCC in April:

“The proposed merger would give one company enormous power over our nation’s media and communications infrastructure. This massive consolidation would position Comcast as our communications gatekeeper, giving it the power to dictate the future of numerous industries across the Internet, television and telecommunications landscape.”

The deal would give Comcast, already a media giant, an unprecedented market share. Together, the two companies control about 33% of the paid television market and about 20% of the total broadband internet market.

It is within this context that the mayors’ support for the deal should be viewed. While there would be some (very) minor benefits to consumers in the short-term, they are not nearly enough to allow the further consolidation of media and telecommunications ownership – which would benefit no one.

h/t The Daily Dot