CWA President Larry Cohen told the House Judiciary Committee that the proposed Comcast/NBC merger should be assessed in terms of jobs, the impact on competition, and the likely negative effect on the emerging Internet video marketplace.
Cohen testified on a panel with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker and other witnesses representing independent film makers, consumers and public policy groups. Read the testimony here.
Cohen told the committee that the proposed merger would saddle the company with $8 billion in new debt and that "NBCU will be under pressure to cut jobs, raise prices or renege on that debt." CWA can cite firsthand many examples of media and communications mergers that did just that. "There are no warranties, no guarantees for consumers, workers and communities. Companies make lots of commitments but don't have to carry them out," he said.
With the nation's unemployment near 10 percent, it's critical that our government evaluate and assess corporate restructurings with regulatory review in terms of the impact on jobs, he said.
Cohen also stressed Comcast's low-road labor policy, one based on a strategy to stop workers from gaining bargaining rights and using aggressive action to stop workers from organizing or getting contracts at companies that it has acquired.
The merger also would create a company with the market power to increase cable rates, block competition in the video marketplace and control content, Cohen said. "No other nation allows this degree of connection between content and pipe, and with good reason," he said.
"In the end, consumers lose innovation and an open Internet. The Internet, once a source of expanding consumer choice and diversity of programming content, would now become mainly a vehicle to protect the current cable incumbents," Cohen said.