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Hundreds rally against merger before the California Public Utilities Commission meeting

April 14, 2015

Hundreds Rally Against Merger before the California Public Utilities Commission Meeting
California Community and Business Leaders Unite in Opposition of Comcast-Time Warner Merger

Los Angeles – CA –  Hundreds of consumer advocates, business and community leaders gathered today in front of the Los Angeles offices of the California Public Utilities Commission in strong opposition to the Comcast-Time Warner merger currently being considered. Citing a lengthy list of serious concerns and threats to key sectors in California, various organizations convened today’s rally including Presente.org, Estrella TV, Consumers Union, Writers Guild of America- West, Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce,  Willie C. Velasquez Institute, Courage Campaign, Media Alliance, Common Cause, TURN, Entravision Communications, Anahuak Soccer League, and many others.

As opposition to the merger continues to mount, the rally focused on the devastating impact the merger will have on California consumers, jobs, Latinos and working class families, content creators, Hollywood, and many other key sectors.  Below find statements from the organizers of today’s action along with a fact sheet citing some of the key concerns.

  • Images and Footage of the press conference available upon request

Statement by Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of Presente.org:

“The proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger would be a disaster for the entire nation, particularly Californians, and a huge defeat for advocates of accessible internet.  And for Latinos, this is the the most dangerous merger our community has seen in recent memory, creating a total monopoly endangering the Latino communities’ access to uncensored media in English and Spanish and affordable internet. We simply cannot afford to allow one company to control nearly all our access to media and the internet.”

Statement by Lenard Liberman, CEO of Estrella TV:  

“Estrella TV is taking a stand today and urging the California Public Utilities Commission to reject the Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger as it will be damaging to California businesses and consumers. My company has experienced first-hand Comcast’s unfair treatment of TV networks that compete with its other-owned media properties. This merger will give the already powerful cable giant even more power, effectively giving Comcast complete control over the cable industry in California. This merger will put my company out of business. It will kill jobs in the already suffering television production industry in our state and reduce content options for consumers, making Comcast a gatekeeper of programming options for pay-TV subscribers.”

Statement by Dr. Paul Song, Executive Chairman of Courage Campaign:

“The Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger would be one of the most damaging corporate takeovers in our nation’s history — leaving millions of consumers in California and across the country with skyrocketing rates, fewer options, and even worse service. Courage Campaign and our over 900,000 members strongly urge the CPUC to have the courage to stand up for consumers and the freedom of choice, and reject this merger without conditions.”

Statement by Marcelo Gaete, Vice President of Public and Governmental Affairs of Entravision:

“Entravision opposes the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable because it will result in the creation of a monolithic gatekeeper due to the number of subscribers they will control.  This harm is especially of concern to Latinos, owing to the number of major Latino markets where the combined entity will provide cable and Internet services.  Antitrust theory tells us that Comcast will have every incentive to shut out independent providers of Latino-oriented programming and to use its buying power to drive down the income derived by those providers that remain.  In the end, this merger will mean that the growing Latino community will not be provided with programming prepared by California-based Latino program providers who seek to serve the diverse elements of our Latino community, including our youth, bilingual Latinos and bi-cultural Latinos.  Our community deserves better.”

Statement by Shawn Ryan, Board Member of Writers Guild of America, West:

“The California Public Utilities Commission should vote for Commissioner Florio’s decision to reject the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. The merger is not in the public interest of California. Writers and consumers have benefitted greatly from the vibrant competition Internet distribution of content has made possible. Expanding Comcast’s national and statewide control of content distribution will only increase its power to pay programmers less and charge consumers more. There are no conditions that could effectively limit Comcast’s gatekeeper power if it were granted the near-monopoly status in statewide broadband distribution it is asking for. The only outcome that protects content creators and consumers is to deny the merger.”

Statement by Ana Montes, Organizing Director of TURN, The Utility Reform Network:

“Bigger doesn’t mean better for consumers. Californians won’t benefit from the creation of a media monster with a near monopoly on broadband, especially one already known for poor customer service and high prices.  Low-income customers need high-quality options for phone, cable and internet service, not fewer choices, which is what this merger would result in.”

Statement by Michael McCauley, Media Director of Consumers Union:

“This merger should be rejected because it would give Comcast a potentially permanent monopoly over our high speed broadband options.  If its approved, Californians and consumers across the country can expect to pay more and have even fewer choices as Comcast uses its market power to muscle out the competition.  And a bigger, more powerful Comcast will have little incentive to improve its notoriously lousy customer service.”

Statement by Todd O’Boyle, Program Director of Common Cause:

“Nearly a million Americans – including thousands of Californians – have spoken clearly. This merger would be a disaster for competition online and on the cable dial. Just as bad, it would undermine the crucial marketplace for ideas on which self-government depends. The CPUC must not bless the further ”

Statement by Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director of Media Alliance

“Given that Comcast has raised prices nearly 70 percent over the last five years, and Internet Essentials has a better record as a Comcast public relations project than as a broadband adoption program, the CPUC needs to consider whether virtually constant price increases, data caps and channel-slamming of public access channels can be anticipated to have adverse impacts on Californians. We say yes they will, and no merger should be approved.”

Statement by Stephanie Chen, Energy and Telecommunications Policy Director, The Greenlining Institute:

“While Time Warner Cable certainly has its flaws, it is a maverick provider in its industry.  It has tried new things that Comcast has not tried, and that’s good for consumers.  Allowing the merger to go forward and eliminate that maverick would virtually guarantee that things will never improve in an industry that is sorely in need of improvement.  There are no conditions that will negate all the harms created by the proposed merger, and it should not be allowed to go forward.”

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Contacts:
Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com
Kristen Rockwell, 323-308-8598, KRockwell@mercuryllc.com