Effort to give FCC all of California's data on Comcast deal

4 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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Adding better dirt to the pile.

The California Public Utilities Commission has amassed a stockpile of proprietary information and confidential analyses regarding the proposed mega-merger and market swap that would put all of Time-Warner’s and nearly all of Charter Communication’s cable systems in California in the hands of Comcast. A utility consumer advocacy group, The Utility Reform Network (TURN), wants all that information turned over to the FCC for its consideration as it likewise evaluates the deal…

TURN recommends…the CPUC provide the FCC with copies of the full confidential versions of the briefs, including all attached declarations and exhibits, and data requests questions and responses of all parties in these consolidated proceedings, giving the FCC the benefit of the analysis and recommendations of all of the parties on the issues that are critical from a California-centric perspective. While the issues important to California are similar in nature to those affecting other jurisdictions – federal and other states – the presence of Comcast as the dominant broadband provider in northern California and Time Warner as the dominant broadband provider in southern California exacerbates the impact on California. Furthermore, a direct competitor to a post-merger Comcast, Charter, will be eliminated, if the proposed merger and related transactions are approved. Truly, the impact of this merger on California and its citizens is much greater than on any other state.

An analysis of the merger done by the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates that shows Comcast gaining monopoly control of broadband for two-thirds of Californian homes. The top line of that study has been released, but not the underlying data. The FCC should have the benefit of that work as it reviews the national implications of the merger. It has its own processes for keeping information confidential – hell, it even keeps its own decisions secret – so there should be no reason not to forward it on.