The merger of the two cable giants would provide Comcast with Time Warner Cable’s 2.5 million customers in New York State and 40 percent of Internet subscribers across the nation. The FCC has delayed a decision on the merger, but states are conducting their own review processes. The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) will approve or reject the merger on November 13. A coalition of 22 state and local elected officials argued in a Letter to PSC Chair, Audrey Zibelman, that for such a merger to be in the public interest, Comcast-Time Warner Cable must guarantee key public benefits including universal broadband and consumer protections.
The New York coalition demanded specific benefits for the Public Service Commission to consider the merger, including, but not limited to:
- Universal broadband to bridge the digital divide, providing free wi-fi programs to NYCHA, senior, youth and community centers, and expanding affordable broadband services to all who qualify for means-based federal, state and city subsidies;
- Improvements in infrastructure, transparency, and customer service to keep New York competitive and ensure residents have effective and reliable cable by reducing wait times, vastly improving service and reducing consumer complaints;
- Increased transparency around interconnect transmission data to ensure compliance with Net Neutrality standards and a commitment to an Open Internet.
The broad coalition consists of State Senators, Assembly Members, Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Members including Progressives Ben Kallos, Antonio Reynoso, Donovan Richards, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, Deborah Rose, Mark Levine, Margaret Chin, Danny Dromm, I. Daneek Miller, Helen Rosenthal, James Van Bramer, and Carlos Menchaca.
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“All New Yorkers must have access to a competitive, free and open Internet. Should these two cable giants merge, it is essential that New Yorkers have the customer protections and digital services they need,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This merger is only in the public interest if it greatly expands and does not diminish the opportunities our digital city has to offer.”
“Countless marginalized neighborhoods, schools, and centers of community life have gotten by for too long without access to the critical services that broadband internet provides. This significant transaction is an opportunity to address this inequality,” said Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs, Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards. “We must not underestimate the business advantages this proposal creates but rather ensure that its impact includes additional resources for the progress of our constituency.”
“Universal broadband would dramatically improve access to educational resources, job training and job postings, government services, and more for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “Today I call on the Public Service Commission to serve the public and recognize universal broadband as a fundamental resource for economic and educational opportunity in the 21st century.”
“Facilitating the development of technology is a priority for New York City, but this work must be done responsibly and with accountability,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “It is of utmost importance to our communities and the public interest that the Comcast-Time Warner merger provides a measure of expertise along with value to the citizens of our City. We expect these companies to demonstrate that they are good players by providing resources and access to those in need. This includes expanding affordable broadband services and improving technology infrastructure throughout the five boroughs.”
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