In a rare interview with a national news outlet, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) joined CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday where he expressed reservations about a proposed merger between the cable providers Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Franken told Tapper that Comcast has a history of playing favorites, particularly with cable news outlets. He cited one example in which Comcast appeared to be favoring an NBCUniversal property over an upstart competitor.
Franken said that the proposal to combine the first and second largest cable providers into a single company would reduce competition and result in higher prices for consumer. “There’s not enough competition,” Franken said. “We need more competition significance, not less. This is going exactly in the wrong direction.”
He added that Comcast has a history of embracing anti-competitive practices. “Now Comcast owns NBC and about three dozen other cable stations – networks,” Franken said.
Franken said that there is a concept called “neighborhooding” which mandates that all cable news networks be grouped together into a block by cable television providers. “Well, they were supposed to put Bloomberg in the same neighborhood, but because Bloomberg competes with CNBC, which is a financial news network, Comcast didn’t comply with that.”
Franken said that Comcast fought having Bloomberg near CNBC and they were “ordered to do that.”
Tapper noted that Al Jazeera America has also had problems getting cable providers to carry their network, let alone getting included in the cable news neighborhood.
“Competition is what we need,” Franken said. “My concerns are that what it means for consumers, it’s going to be higher prices, worse service, worse choice.”
Watch the clip below via CNN:
[Photo via screen grab ]
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