Comcast/NBC Universal Merger
Senator Franken is deeply concerned about media consolidation. The media are our source of entertainment and information from around the world, so when the company that produces the programs also runs the pipes that bring us those programs, we have reason to be nervous. Although media competition can encourage diversity of ideas and services, only five companies control a majority of American media.
In late 2009, General Electric Company agreed to sell the majority of NBC shares to Comcast, a major cable company. The buyout gives the resulting company unprecedented control over the media. The American Cable Association has released a study showing that it will raise consumers' cable bills by about $2.4 billion over the next nine years.
On February 4, 2010, the Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to address this issue. As a member of the subcommittee, Senator Franken critically questioned the merger and the potential risks for consumers. On June 21, 2010 Sen. Franken wrote a letter to the Secretary of the FCC detailing his concerns about the proposed merger. On December 18, 2010 Sen. Franken gave a speech on the floor of the Senate calling upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act in the public interest instead of the corporate interest and stop this merger.
Unfortunately the FCC approved the merger on January 18, 2011. While they did impose some conditions that the new company will have to abide by, these conditions are not sufficient to protect the public interest. Senator Franken will continue to fight against media consolidation in the Senate.