Dish Network Begs FCC To Nix Comcast-Time Warner Deal Before It Gets Ugly

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently deciding whether or not to approve Comcast's $45.2 billion proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable, a deal that would combine the two largest cable providers in the U.S. and give net Comcast an additional 30 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Dish Network is screaming in the FCC's ear to block the deal over concerns that it would present "serious competitive concerns."

One of Dish Network's biggest concerns is the control of so-called choke points in the broadband pipeline that Comcast could use to harm competing video services. The choke points include the direct connection to consumers, the interconnection point, and managed or specialized channels, each of which could be used to throttle video coming from competing video services.

"There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger," Jeffrey Blum, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for Dish Network said in a filing.

Dish Network
Image Source: Flickr (Dave L)

Blum also argued that Comcast would be able to extract lower prices from programmers, thereby forcing programmers to charge even higher rates from smaller pay-TV providers like Dish Network to make up for their lost revenue. However, as with every dispute, there's two sides to this story, and Comcast sees things a bit differently.

"Dish has long been one of our most vigorous competitors, and unlike us has a national footprint available in tens of millions of more homes than a combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable," Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Comcast, told Bloomberg Businessweek in an email.

It's worth noting that Dish Network didn't ask the FCC to block AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV, but said that also "presents competitive concerns."