nav search
Data Center Software Security Transformation DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes BOFH

Democrats (still a thing, apparently) are super unhappy about AT&T's Time-Warner merger

Busting up telcos is on LOSER party's agenda. SAD!

By Shaun Nichols, 24 Jul 2017

Democrats in US Congress oppose AT&T's acquisition of Time-Warner and any other proposed big-time telco gobbles.

In a policy outline [PDF] posted Monday, titled A Better Deal, the party says it stands in opposition to this and other mergers that will reduce competition among cable providers and cut off Americans from a choice in services.

"If AT&T succeeds in this deal, it will have more power to restrict the content access of its 135 million wireless and 25.5 million pay-TV subscribers," the Dems say.

"This will only enable the resulting behemoths to promote their own programming, unfairly discriminate against other distributors and their ability to offer highly desired content, and further restrict small businesses from successfully competing in the market."

Other industries the party wants to break up include breweries (they note just five companies make half of the world's beer), eyeglass vendors, and the always-popular airlines racket. In general, the party says it wants to stop or even break up industries in the US that have consolidated around a few major corporations.

"Over the last thirty years, courts and permissive regulators have allowed large companies to get larger, resulting in higher prices and limited consumer choice in daily expenses such as travel, cable, and food and beverages," the document suggests.

"And because concentrated market power leads to concentrated political power, these companies deploy armies of lobbyists to increase their stranglehold on Washington."

That the Democrats would oppose this deal should not come as a surprise. In the lead-up to last year's presidential election, Hillary Clinton came out against the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, citing concerns over concentrating power in the cable and wireless markets.

Whether the Dems can actually do anything about this, however, is a much bigger question. Aside from the Trump White House, Republicans also have control of both the Senate and the House, and with mid-term elections not taking place for another year, the GOP could easily force through the merger even with Democrat opposition.

Additionally, the transaction is already on the fast track to approval, thanks to a work-around that keeps it out of US broadband watchdog the FCC's jurisdiction. At this point, the only major hurdle in getting the tie-up consummated is the long-shot of opposition from the Department of Justice at the behest of Trump. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing