It was the undercurrent at the Cable Show last week. Even when their names didn’t come up, you could feel the weight of Comcast and Time Warner Cable‘s proposed union throughout the conference. Also telling was the amount of floor traffic at Comcast’s booth. What you probably didn’t see was Comcast chmn/CEO Brian Roberts taking advantage of FCC staff being in town for a little merger talk. That’s what ex parte filings are for—Roberts met with FCC commish Mignon Clyburn and her chief of staff Adonis Hoffman at the show, speaking particularly about the public interest benefits of both the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal and the Charter divestiture. Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the filing—the first meeting between Roberts and a commissioner, but certainly not the last—were questions raised by Clyburn about independent programmers and minority entrepreneurs. The ex parte doesn’t include her specific questions but offers a glimpse into some issues that could crop up during the merger review. "In response to questions raised by the commissioner, we acknowledged the need for independent programmers to have easily accessible information on who to contact at Comcast regarding carriage, and we also recognized the continued interest by minority entrepreneurs to invest in cable systems," the filing said. Roberts and Comcast evp David Cohen also met with FCC commish Jessica Rosenworcel at the Cable Show and had a similar discussion, the company said. While it has only been about a month since the FCC docket on the transaction was opened, it already sports nearly 200 filings, many of them from concerned citizens. And they aren’t all form letters. There’s a former Adelphia customer, who complained that Comcast raised his rate 35% after it bought the former Coudersport, PA-based operator. Another letter writer details how his bill rose from $45/month for cable and Internet for 1 TV and 1 computer in Feb ’08 to $109.30 in Feb ’14. There also is a mix of customer service complaints among those citizen filings, including one TWC sub in CA who says she lost an hour of the Super Bowl (TWC later apologized and offered pay-per-view credits because of the outage). Comcast-TWC will get more time in the spotlight Thurs, when House Judiciary holds a hearing on the proposed merger—only the 2nd Hill gathering behind last month’s Sen Judiciary hearing. Witnesses slated to testify include Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus, Comcast’s Cohen, ACA pres/CEO Matt Polka, Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer and Rural Media Group (parent of RDF-TV) chmn Patrick Gottsch.

The Daily


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