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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mayor Ed Murray on the Comcast/Time Warner Merger: It's "Bad for Consumers, Bad for the Future of the Internet, and Bad for Democracy"

Posted by on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Mayor Ed Murray today released a statement on the news that Comcast plans to buy Time Warner for $44 billion.

This is some really good, I-am-not-fucking-around mayor talk right here:

I am very troubled by the proposed Comcast / Time Warner Merger. If the merger goes through, the company would control roughly three quarters of the nation’s cable and internet service. They will also be one of the largest content providers and news distributors in the world. Less competition in these three areas will be bad for consumers, bad for the future of the internet, and bad for democracy.

But does it stop there, just offering some gruff disapproval? No, my friends, it does not. There's a threat of real action:

While the City does not have the power to prevent Comcast’s $45 billion purchase of Time Warner, we can take steps to make sure competition is stronger in Seattle. One step will be to evaluate our City’s relationship with Comcast. The City’s franchise agreement with Comcast expires January 20, 2016. As part of the renewal process, the Office of Cable will conduct a review of Comcast’s relationship with the City. Part of the review process will include a telephone survey of Seattle residents; an on-line survey; community meetings; and focus groups. I strongly urge Comcast customers to participate in this process once it launches. If we determine Comcast has not lived up to their obligations, the City of Seattle will not renew the franchise agreement.

Democracy thrives when information is readily available to anyone regardless of their economic status. Media monopolies threaten the free flow of information, make competition nearly impossible, and put too much control into one company’s hands. I hope regulators prevent this merger, while I do my part to foster competition in Seattle.

Mike McGinn tried to throw Comcast's donations to Murray at him during the campaign, and they didn't seem to stick. But people have since wondered if Murray will really be all that tough on the much-hated cable company. And while we'd like him to get to work on building municipal broadband ASAP, threatening to not renew Comcast's franchise agreement with the city is ballsy and great.

High five, Ed. And Seattleites, Redditors, all of you: You hate Comcast? Give the city your feedback, for chrissake.


Comments (25) RSS

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William of Seattle 1
Good Job, Mister Mayor. You are emerging as the serious, strong leader that Seattle needs. We must all be vigilant and aware of the emerging Corporate Media Dystopia.
Posted by William of Seattle on February 13, 2014 at 4:30 PM · Report this
William of Seattle 2
Two of the most disliked companies on the planet to become one....get out your spanners and get used to that boiling cabbage smell and down a glass of Victory Gin; everything is fine.
Posted by William of Seattle on February 13, 2014 at 4:33 PM · Report this
First thing the new mayor has done that I approve of.
Posted by I Got Nuthin' on February 13, 2014 at 4:45 PM · Report this
I hate Comcast as much as the next person, but is there actually anything better (customer service aside)? That's a serious question, not meant to be provocative.
Posted by Here Lies Violet Trefusis on February 13, 2014 at 4:49 PM · Report this
Knat 5
You hate Comcast? Give the city your feedback, for chrissake.

I will happily use my Comcast Internet access to complain about Comcast. Just let me know where to go.
Posted by Knat on February 13, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Report this
I've never understood the hate for Comcast. I've generally found them to be helpful on the phone, especially during outages, and I've never been unhappy with their technicians. The last one who came by (to set me up with a new DVR box) also replaced my outdated modem. And when he was finished, he rearranged the setup in my bedroom to better hide all the cables.

Is it the cost? The bundling? Or is it more a disdain for cable companies in general?
Posted by dougmac on February 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM · Report this
The pricing, sneaky billing practices, long waits at the actual service centers, and refusal to upgrade the network in a timely manner.
Posted by Chris22 on February 13, 2014 at 7:04 PM · Report this
High-speed internet access has become a necessary utility, similar to electricity and telephones in the early 20th century. The United States is falling behind other nations when it comes to high-speed internet access. This interview sums it up well.…

The federal government is so stalemated that there is no hope that it will take the initiative to regulate the industry and require it to install the infrastructure necessary to keep the US on a par with nations such as Sweden and South Korea. I think it is up to local municipalities to start the grassroots movement towards this end. Let's do what we can to make Seattle a trendsetter in this endeavor.
Posted by knittrgrrl on February 13, 2014 at 7:07 PM · Report this
Not sure why entire link did not appear in my previous post. Trying again.…
Posted by knittrgrrl on February 13, 2014 at 7:12 PM · Report this
JonnoN 10
@6 2 technicians came to my parents' house and spent 6 hours trying to figure out how to swap a CableCard from one tivo to the other. They failed.
Posted by JonnoN on February 13, 2014 at 7:24 PM · Report this
JonnoN 11
@9 because you're not registered
Posted by JonnoN on February 13, 2014 at 7:25 PM · Report this
Such a breathe of fresh air - a no snark piece on our new Mayor. Thank you, Anna.
Posted by M. Wells on February 13, 2014 at 10:38 PM · Report this
Nice job Mr. Mayor!!
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 13, 2014 at 11:03 PM · Report this

Did you forget to link to the survey the mayor suggested you fill out ? .... due by May 31, 2014 and the franchise agreements are 10 fricking years.…
Posted by ChefJoe on February 13, 2014 at 11:17 PM · Report this
The merger may be bad for Seattle, although I'm not sure how, other than causing another round of repetitive hand-wringing injuries. But it will be great for NYC-based employees of NBC and MSNBC who will now be getting cheaper cable from their employer than they're currently paying to Time Warner, who I assure you is much worse when it comes to price, service and managing the Knicks.
Posted by DannyG on February 14, 2014 at 12:39 AM · Report this
I just filled out the survey. People who have opinions about the Seattle channel and television programs will be pleased with the focus of the survey. People who have an opinion about their internet service will find the survey lacking.
Posted by wasd on February 14, 2014 at 2:27 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 17
Idle threats. Nothing will happen. Words mean nothing.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 14, 2014 at 3:03 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 18
But but but...Goldy and Dominic said Murray would be the bitch whore of Comcast?!?!? You mean those two were full of shit? SHOCKED!!!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 14, 2014 at 3:23 AM · Report this
Not that I hate Comcast and / or Time Warner, but I would like to see greater competition from companies like Wave Broadband and Frontier.
Posted by gman5541 on February 14, 2014 at 7:06 AM · Report this
Way to go, Ed! A nice big FU to Comcast.
Posted by NotYourStrawMan on February 14, 2014 at 9:11 AM · Report this
Kinison 21
"Mike McGinn tried to throw Comcast's donations to Murray at him during the campaign, and they didn't seem to stick."

I'm pretty sure the Stranger (in addition to McGinn himself) did all that it could to push that line of bullshit onto voters, suggesting Murray was in the pocket of Comcast.
Posted by Kinison on February 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Good job Ed Murray! The Comcast-TWC merger can't be allowed to go through.

In wireless we're seeing T-Mobile make some disruptive moves that are good for competition and good for consumers. Something similar might happen in the internet/cable provider market.

Example: TWC or some other company could expand well beyond their current geographic boundaries by selling subscriptions to their cable TV service, delivered over the internet. Even if Comcast provides your internet service there is no reason you couldn't get TV elsewhere. Maybe, if Comcast is not allowed to be a bigger monopoly than it already is, we could one day choose among several options for TV services, competing on price.

If Comcast owns the entire market and has an even larger stranglehold on content providers innovation is pretty much impossible.
Posted by poltergeist on February 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM · Report this
T 23
@6 My problem with them is their semi-monopoly here and other cities. You want high-speed internet, you HAVE to go through Comcast (or Wave, if you live in the small pocket of the city serviced by them). There's no competition, which is stifling innovation and improvements in our infrastructure. Lots of stories in the past few years have highlighted just how far behind we are in our data infrastructure development, and the only way to get things to where they should be is by letting someone else jump in and try to do it better.

I've never actually had many problems with Comcast's services, and when I have had them, they've almost always responded quickly and efficiently. I just wish my connection wouldn't choke on Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.
Posted by T on February 14, 2014 at 12:36 PM · Report this
What does this franchise agreement actually mean? I've never heard of it before.
Posted by ishf on February 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM · Report this
Our household hates Comcast. And especially so since they scrambled the HD signal for basic cable customers so that our new HD TV could no longer view HD. And then we were forced to use their stupid, energy wasting, cluttering set top boxes to view even the basic cable channels. The stupid set top boxes waste so much energy they are hot to the touch - hot enough to split the wood of our media console and energy wasting enough so that the increase in our electric bill was noticeable.

We spent $100 for an antenna and pretty much now keep the stupid set top box unplugged.
Posted by Fluffy on February 15, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this

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