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Al Franken Wants Netflix's Help in Stopping Comcast Merger
by Karl Bode 10:39AM Friday Apr 18 2014
Al Franken has been leading a strong charge in opposition of Comcast's $45 billion Time Warner Cable acquisition, being one of the only people to hit the company with hard questions during the recent Congressional hearing on the merger. Now Franken is looking to get Netflix's help after the company recently vocally complained about the threat new interconnection and peering deals pose to the health of the greater Internet.

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Netflix has already been one of the only major content companies to complain vocally and repeatedly about usage caps, and the use of caps to thwart competing content and services. With Comcast about to take over a larger swath of users, and considering their growing interest in usage caps, it's an issue that very much hits right at the heart of Netflix's business interests.

In the letter (pdf), Franken urges Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to answer a few questions, while outlining his own concerns:
quote:
“My concern is that Comcast will be able to use its clout in the broadband distribution market to obtain an anticompetitive advantage in the content market. Comcast can achieve this by blocking, degrading, raising costs for, or otherwise interfering with unaffiliated content that relies on Comcast’s distribution network to reach consumers. I am not alone in my concerns. When Comcast acquired NBCUniversal, the FCC noticed the unprecedented nature of Comcast’s vertical integration and concluded that it would ‘increase Comcast’s incentive to discriminate against unaffiliated content and distributors in its exercise of control over consumers’ broadband connections[.]’ Those concerns were appropriate when Comcast acquired NBCUniversal a few years ago; they are heightened significantly now that Comcast seeks to acquire Time Warner Cable."
Many companies in the TV ecosystem have been quiet on the problems the merger poses, though Franken recently stated many media companies indicate to him they're afraid to speak out for fear of marketplace retribution.

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SHABAZZ

join:2008-07-13
Seattle, WA

2 recommendations

Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken is one of the best congressmen currently serving.

DataDoc
My avatar looks like me, if I was 2D.
Premium
join:2000-05-14
Martinsburg, WV

Re: Al Franken

Don't forget to send him your receipts.
BlueC

join:2009-11-26
Minneapolis, MN
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Integra Telecom
said by SHABAZZ:

Sen. Al Franken is one of the best congressmen currently serving.

Is that right. So you would agree on his historical support of things like SOPA/PIPA?

»tech.mn/news/2011/12/19/al-frank···ct-pipa/

»www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/2···lanation

»projects.propublica.org/sopa/F000457.html
etaadmin

join:2002-01-17
Dallas, TX
kudos:1
Yes he is... but he is dead wrong on this one.

AlIsAJoke

@comcast.net
said by SHABAZZ:

Sen. Al Franken is one of the best congressmen currently serving.

Had to LOL at that. He is bought and sold like the rest. He just is bought by different buyers.
»www.opensecrets.org/politicians/···9016#ind

Law Firms own his butt. So anything he backs is to make lawsuits easier.

Mr Guy

@charter.com

1 recommendation

said by SHABAZZ:

Sen. Al Franken is one of the best congressmen currently serving.

Actually he's a Senator

joikd

@206.169.136.x

Re: Al Franken

Senate + House of Reps. = Congress

SHABAZZ

join:2008-07-13
Seattle, WA
A little education for you. Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate...
puck0114

join:2005-12-24
Portland, OR

1 recommendation

Re: Al Franken

Senators are not called "Congressmen" (or "Congresswomen"). That term is reserved for members of the HoR.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

1 recommendation

Re: Al Franken

Wikiapedia would prove you correct...

...but I hear lots of other terms used to refer to both members of the senate and HoR.

Rogue Wolf
Mourns the Loss of lilhurricane

join:2003-08-12
Troy, NY

Re: Al Franken

And most of those terms cannot be repeated on a family-friendly site such as this one.
--
I may have been born yesterday, but I've spent all afternoon downtown.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Re: Al Franken

Or even at a congress unfriendly site, such as most of them.
Unfortunately some earned those titles, but it taints them all, more so those who could stand up and say NO!

RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

Al may be barking up the wrong tree

While I applaud his courage going up against 'the man' in a lot of worthy causes, this is ridiculous. The time to address this was over 10 years ago when there was a chance to declare ALL internet providers common carriers and implement true "net neutrality". Instead we got the system we have. Unless Franken plans to break up Comcast a la the original AT&T he's just doing a bit for the media.

You want to change this? Change the Communications Act. Wasting time on a Congressional hearing is absurd. It'll never happen though because that will drag the wireless carriers into it too and they will never allow it.
Mr Matt

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Re: Al may be barking up the wrong tree

said by RadioDoc:

The time to address this was over 10 years ago when there was a chance to declare ALL internet providers common carriers and implement true "net neutrality".

It was addressed during the Clinton Administration. Cable and Telephone were required to share their networks for broadband access at reasonable prices. Between 1996 and 2001 there were alternate Broadband ISP's. As soon as the Fascist Bush Administration took control the Cable and Telephone companies were allowed to set prices so competitors could not compete. We see that happening with wireless MVNO Millenicom when Verizon raised Millenicom's cost for the second time forcing them to increase prices from $69.00 per month to $89.00 per month. The first increase was from $59.00 to $69.00 per month last year.

TKJunkMail
Premium
join:2005-12-09

Re: Al may be barking up the wrong tree

Yep. Blame Michael Powell.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
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Cable was not required to share. They have shared willingly since the AOL-TW merger. Comcast allows Earthlink in 5 markets. TWC allows Earthlink and a few others. Although with Earthlink TWC decides when they're is a price increase. Other Indy ISPs are free to set their own prices for their customers.
cramer
Premium
join:2007-04-10
Raleigh, NC
kudos:9

Re: Al may be barking up the wrong tree

said by TBBroadband:

Cable was not required to share. They have shared willingly...

That's not "shared", that's "resold". The only thing that makes it an Elink connection is the IP -- it runs over the same infrastructure side-by-side with TWC's connections. Even where it's tunneled (ala Covad DSL), it's still "resold" connectivity

Although with Earthlink TWC decides when they're is a price increase.

Again, incorrect. Elink prices (and speed packages) are set by their contract (which isn't available to the public to read.) Read through the posts in the Earthlink Cable forum here to see them say so (near as they can.) That's why the price has remained the same for over a decade! (at the cost of D3 speeds.)

Probitas

@teksavvy.com
Do you leave a busted axle alone because the car can still be driven? Do you leave a dam leaking because it's not threatening anyone 'today'? If the system isn't working right, you can never be too late to start to repair it. Saying that's what we got and we have to deal with it is defeatist and waving a white flag before even trying once to storm the barricades that have been erected. What they are doing is no different than what Microsoft does concerning their own anti-competitive behavior. The difference is that they've been taken to task.

The FCC is a dog with a lot of bark, but the teeth are in a glass on the cable industry bedside table.

AlTooLate

@comcast.net
He is too late on this. Netflix already did a deal with Comcast and they aren't going to fight this merger. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Comcast/Netflix agreement already took the TWC merger in to account and included provisions related to the merger.

newview
Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Premium
join:2001-10-01
Parsonsburg, MD
kudos:1
Reviews:
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David vs Goliath

quote:
Comcast (points out) that it does not directly compete with Time Warner Cable in any zip code -- as if that's supposed to reassure us. But the fact that the two biggest cable companies have already effectively managed to carve the country up into local monopolies shouldn't make us feel any better about their plan to become one giant company. Indeed, it's a clear sign that the cable market needs more competition, not less.
- Al Franken
»www.cnn.com/2014/04/12/opinion/f···akeover/

Tell your Representatives in Congress that you oppose
the Comcast \ Time Warner Cable Mafia Merger
»bit.ly/Qlz4tJ

djrobx
Premium
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1 recommendation

Re: David vs Goliath

said by newview:

Indeed, it's a clear sign that the cable market needs more competition, not less.

I completely agree. The problem is that stopping the Comcast merger is not going to create any meaningful competition whatsoever. Instead of wasting our energy on this, we should be looking at why AT&T and Verizon don't want to roll out next gen networks, or things we can do to encourage Google Fiber, or small ISPs like Sonic.Net to do more deployment.

Maybe we need to break up AT&T and Verizon's wireless and wireline divisions so the thought of migrating folks over to wireless with steep overages isn't so palatable.

AT&T U-verse VDSL is already running out of runway and can't keep up with DOCSIS 3. This leaves "your local cable company" without a lot of incentive to innovate in the majority of AT&T areas.

jmn1207
Premium
join:2000-07-19
Ashburn, VA
kudos:1

Re: David vs Goliath

When discussing competition, I think this merger is more about contracts between Comcast and the media moguls, obviously when it is not NBC. This is where a significant player is being removed from the equation while granting one of them an enormous amount of leverage; perhaps even too much.
WhatNow
Premium
join:2009-05-06
Charlotte, NC
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: David vs Goliath

You are right the content developers can't play one cable company off on the other if Comcast/TWC becomes one. The other is new ideas. Even if your area is not served by a cable company that comes up with a new idea that idea may spread and your cable company may pick up the idea in a few years.

Mr Guy

@charter.com

Congress does get a say

these are just hearings Congress doesn't get to vote on this. This is strictly the decision of the FCC and DOJ perhaps the FTC but I'm not sure on that one. At any rate these hears are just for show and have no bearings on what happens.

By the way if this deal is denied TWC will just let Charter buy them out. And that deal WILL get approved.
etaadmin

join:2002-01-17
Dallas, TX
kudos:1

1 edit

Re: Congress does get a say

said by Mr Guy :

By the way if this deal is denied TWC will just let Charter buy them out. And that deal WILL get approved.

And that WILL make two mediocre companies one, a company that will not upgrade on innovate their network. This is what at&t and verizon would like to happen.

At&t's gigapower is not about google fiber it is all about the comcast TWC merger

»consumerist.com/2014/03/07/thoug···service/

»multichannel.com/news/technology···s/325589

So yes, allowing Comcast and TWC to merge will stir up competition.

Edit, correct link.

Mr Guy

@charter.com

Re: Congress does get a say

said by etaadmin:

And that WILL make two mediocre companies one, a company that will not upgrade on innovate their network.

hate to tell you but Charter is constantly upgrading their network. first they converted to Docsis 3.0 and now they are in the middle to converting to all digital. So if you're going to make a rank at least get your facts straight.
etaadmin

join:2002-01-17
Dallas, TX
kudos:1

1 edit

Re: Congress does get a say

TWC offer UNCAPED 100/5 Charter is CAPED 100?/4.

Does charter have plans like TWC's Maxx for 300/20?

How about DOCSIS 3.1?

How about new TV hardware like X1?

I want to become part of Comcast not Charter... if it is Charter then good bye.

Edit: No way to know what charter offers... their website talks about a 30 Mbps tier is this the fastest they offer?

ieolus
Support The Clecs

join:2001-06-19
Danbury, CT

Re: Congress does get a say

I hate all the cable companies, but damn am I glad I'm in Charter territory and not Comcrap. I never would have switched from DirecTV if I had to move to them.
--
"Speak for yourself "Chadmaster" - lesopp

Mr Guy

@charter.com
said by etaadmin:

TWC offer UNCAPED 100/5 Charter is CAPED 100?/4.

So? It's 500 GB. TWC getting capped whether it's with Charter or Comcast

Does charter have plans like TWC's Maxx for 300/20?

Not yet

How about DOCSIS 3.1?

No one has that.

How about new TV hardware like X1?

don't know what that is.

I want to become part of Comcast not Charter... if it is Charter then good bye.

A) TWC is still going to sell 3-5 million of their customers to Charter even if the merge with Comcast gets approved.

B) You were comparing TWC to Charter not Comcast to Charter.

C) where else you getting internet from? DSL?

Edit: No way to know what charter offers... their website talks about a 30 Mbps tier is this the fastest they offer?

Charter has 30 Mbps and 100 Mbps. The 30 Mbps has actually been raised to 60 Mbps in some areas already and will be 60 Mbps for all be the end of the year. And for $55 a month by the way. AND no modem fees unlike TWC AND Comcast.
etaadmin

join:2002-01-17
Dallas, TX
kudos:1

3 edits

Re: Congress does get a say

said by Mr Guy :

So? It's 500 GB. TWC getting capped whether it's with Charter or Comcast

For me it is not a big deal but for other TWC subscribers it is, nevertheless CAPPED against UNCAPPED there is a BIG difference.

Does charter have plans like TWC's Maxx for 300/20?
How about DOCSIS 3.1?
said by Mr Guy :

Not yet
No one has that.

This is the problem, we don't know where Charter stands. Comcast already stated that they are having D3.1 trials later this year. This is the difference between a 'bulish' company and a procastinator... like TWC and Charter. Getting the message?

How about new TV hardware like X1?
said by Mr Guy :

don't know what that is.

Again, not a big deal for me but a lot of TWC subscribers complain about the TV hardware and ugly UI.
»customer.comcast.com/help-and-su···latform/

said by Mr Guy :

A) TWC is still going to sell 3-5 million of their customers to Charter even if the merge with Comcast gets approved.

B) You were comparing TWC to Charter not Comcast to Charter.

C) where else you getting internet from? DSL?

I feel sorry for those 3-5 million TWC being divested to Charter. I have a hunch that many of them will switch to the cableco or satellite TV... I would. A nice way to accelerate the cord cutting trend.

I am comparing TWC to Charter because they are at the same level... they are both procrastinators. IMO Comcast vs Charter, Comcast wins hands down.

I can always switch to uverse VDSL2.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
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Springfield, MA
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Reviews:
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Signs of a TV provider wanting to be bought

Signs that a TV provider is wanting to be bought out.

1. Frequent carriage disputes with content providers (want to have low accounts payable to make the provider look attractive to a buyer).
2. Frequent rate increases and added new fees so they have a healthy accounts receivable portfolio).
3. Refusal to upgrade it's infrastructure so they have low debt.
--
I've experienced ImOn (when they were McLeod USA), Mediacom, Comcast, and Time Warner and I currently have DirecTV. They are much better than broadcast TV.

I have not and will not cut the cord.

why60loss

join:2012-09-20
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Time Warner Cable
·Verizon Wireless..

Re: Signs of a TV provider wanting to be bought

said by IowaCowboy:

Signs that a TV provider is wanting to be bought out.

1. Frequent carriage disputes with content providers (want to have low accounts payable to make the provider look attractive to a buyer).
2. Frequent rate increases and added new fees so they have a healthy accounts receivable portfolio).
3. Refusal to upgrade it's infrastructure so they have low debt.

And TWC fits the bill. It's very clear to me that they have been planning this for some time and got a new CEO to help sell the business.

Time warner cable customer's may not to hear it but the fact is TWC doesn't want to upgrade and want to milk there old lines for as long as they can before selling off. They only are still unlimited so they don't make a big PR thing out of doing caps when trying to sell to Comcast. If the deal fails there will be a dark age for all time warner cable customers as they jack rates up even more and slowly do more capping plans until they remove unlimited all together so they can milk some more.

Then they will go to the government and say they are to big to fail and get more money to sit on.

Snakeoil
Ignore Button. The coward's feature.
Premium
join:2000-08-05
Mentor, OH
kudos:1

To big to fail.

I guess no one recalls all the bail outs that occurred just a few years ago. Bail outs that many insisted be done because the companies were "To big to fail".

The bail outs never should have happened and no company is to important or to big to fail.
But yet here we are, with another mega corporation about to form. And it seems many yet again forget the lessons that we can see in history, about such things.

So the next time we have a recession, we are going to have to shell out even more money, because of all the mega corporations that are "to big to fail"?
Screw that, let them fail.
This merger needs to be blocked.
--
Is a person a failure for doing nothing? Or is he a failure for trying, and not succeeding at what he is attempting to do? What did you fail at today?.

linicx
Caveat Emptor
Premium
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United State
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Solution

Netflix can do what Netflix has always has done. Rent directly to the consumer. I have radios, theater, movie rental store, and a RedBox that is often broken at the grocery store. I don't do cable. I can buy movies for a $1. Basic cable and basic satellite are crappy infomercial OTA channels, local channels, and syndicated shows that were popular 20-years ago. Hallmark Channel reduced its dirt cheap reason for existence by sandwiching syrupy Grade B romance (no-name actors) between exciting episodes of Mr. Ed and I Love Lucy.

Build your own library and cut the cord. I am
--
Mac: No windows, No Gates, Apple inside