Stop the Comcast-Time Warner Mega-Merger
by Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of Presente.org
A tide is turning on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger. Mere months ago, they seemed too big, too wealthy to fight. But as the stakes have become clear, as many of us have realized just how much lack of competition has already affected the internet and just how little competition would remain after such a merger, we must all pay attention to this major threat.
We have known for some time that if the FCC approves this mega-merger, it would make Comcast the biggest cable and broadband company in the country, by far. We've heard that it would also make Comcast our nation's most powerful media gatekeeper.
But as the issue has gained steam, one community that would be one of the most affected nation-wide has been left out of the discussion: Latinos.
90% of the Latino population will have little to no option for broadband access or cable TV if this proposed merger becomes reality. The combined company would monopolize major markets in cities with huge Latino populations like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and San Diego.
Comcast could have greater control over our ability to access news and information about our community from our community, which is already vastly underrepresented and has a largely stereotyped portrayal by the media.
The merger would give Comcast the power to decide what programming Latinos can watch, what services we receive and what prices we pay. Comcast currently serves a relatively modest share of the Latino community in markets such asChicago, Philadelphia and Houston. But this all changes if the merger is approved.
But it gets worse for low-income Latino families, for whom this merger could mean an actual barrier to accessing the Internet. A merger will make Comcast the sole provider of high-speed broadband in the largest Latino markets -- leading to rising prices. Without competition -- underserved markets Comcast deems less profitable will be even less likely to get Internet.
Access is tough to find in many low-income communities today, this merger will make that problem more severe.
To make matters worse -- Comcast is one of the key players lobbying the FCC to stop Net Neutrality. This is a threat to freedom of the Internet for everyone, including Latinos. With the merger, the new mega-company would have even more power to bully the FCC out of protecting the Internet for all Americans regardless of income.
For online organizing groups with limited funds such as ours, Presente.org, a tiered Internet system could be detrimental to our work organizing Latino communities and raising the voices of the most vulnerable -- youth, immigrants, and the poor.
This is a radical proposal that will be disastrous for Latino communities across the country. Opposing this deal is common sense.
Given the stakes, Latino community leaders and activists should be raising our voices to oppose such a massive, monopolizing merger that will change our media landscape forever.
Instead, many Latino civil rights groups -- with close financial ties to Comcast -- have remained silent or have praised Comcast's track record, bolstering the chances that the FCC will approve the mega-merger.
Comcast is asking our community to trust they are doing right by us. As evidence of this generosity, Comcast points to supposed good deeds it has done for our community since it struck a deal with several Latino groups that paved the way for the company's acquisition of NBC Universal in 2011.
These acts of corporate good do not erase the incredible damage Comcast is poised to rain down on our community -- but even those supposed deeds have become difficult to corroborate.
Comcast refuses to provide the public with the relevant numbers and statistics on their claims to have increased Latino employment, and to have spent more with Latino vendors.
The groups praising Comcast's work in these fields -- National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens -- receive large financial contributions from the company. Trusting a group's public review of their funder is a useless exercise, and we should view NCLR and LULAC's reviews of the Comcast merger through this more critical lens.
If all this weren't enough, Comcast's public record speaks for itself: the Consumerist has named Comcast the worst company in the World twice.
This is why we are calling all Latino leaders to oppose this merger. In barrios and communities across America, Latino families are about to get hammered if this dangerous telecommunications deal is approved. A united Comcast and TWC would only result in disaster for our communities, which is why we must unite in our opposition.
It is time to stop the mega-merger and this major assault on the Latino community.