A senior official with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) testified yesterday that the proposed Comcast-NBCU merger would lead to job cuts, aggravate the already anti-competitive behavior of the cable industry and restrict consumer access to the online video content of their choice.
In remarks before a field hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, CWA District 9 Vice President James Weitkamp stressed that the public must be protected from the significant harms created by a merger of such unprecedented scale.
"The Comcast/NBCU merger is not in the public interest. Federal regulators cannot endorse this merger without carefully considering the significant impact the merging companies will have on video competition, choice and jobs," Weitkamp said.
CWA represents 700,000 employees nationwide, including workers at both Comcast and NBC-Universal. Weitkamp’s comments echoed those made earlier this year by CWA President Larry Cohen in testimony before the full Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill.
"The Internet allows consumers access to the video content of their choice, unmediated by the pre-packaged bundles of the cable company. A combined Comcast-NBCU could limit consumers’ online access to NBC content, or it could charge consumers higher prices to access that content unless they are cable subscribers. This is the ‘TV Everywhere’ model that Comcast and NBC have already begun to deploy, which forces Internet customers to buy cable packages in order to see content online," Weitkamp said.
Further, a Comcast-NBCU combination will result in the loss of good jobs and depress labor standards for those who still have jobs after a merger, Weitkamp said. The merged company would add an additional $8 billion to the current debt load, giving the new company the choice of cutting jobs and/or raising cable prices.