Two House Democrats are asking the Federal Communications Commission to impose conditions on the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal that would preserve affordable broadband service and fair access to online content.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the current (and soon to be former) chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski this week urging him to impose net neutrality-style rules barring the new entity from giving its own online video content special treatment over competitors.
"The combination of Comcast and NBCU will give the nation’s largest cable TV company and broadband provider control of a massive catalogue of content, channels and household Internet connections," Waxman said. "Video programming and Internet distribution will be inextricably intertwined to an unprecedented degree."
The proposed $30 billion merger is under two separate reviews at the FCC and Justice Department.
Another prominent Democrat, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), wrote a separate letter to the FCC chairman this week warning that the entity might raise the price for standalone broadband service as a way to compel subscribers to pay for a TV and Internet package.
"With customers increasingly using their broadband connections to access video content online, control of both the content and the conduit through which it is delivered would provide Comcast the ability to make ‘cutting the cord’ less financially attractive to consumers, undermining competition and choice," Markey wrote.
Markey also raised concerns about future discrimination against rival Web video content.