Today, the U.S. Senate announced it will hold a hearing on the controversial Comcast-Time Warner Cable $45.2 billion merger.
A lot of people and consumer advocates across the country are up in arms because Comcast is the country’s largest operator of cable TV and high-speed Internet service, followed by TWC as the second-largest. A merger would mean one giant supercompany that would have greater influence, more resources, and even less competition — although the two companies dispute that last part, of course.
The hearing itself is March 26 and focuses on what this merger means for average consumers. The Senate wants to know how a Comcast/TWC super ISP would affect market competition, TV and Internet pricing, and more.
“The merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable touches on important policy questions bout how Americans access these valuable services,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in a statement.
“It also presents a critical moment to discuss net neutrality principles that have allowed the Internet to remain an open marketplace for ideas,” Leahy said.
The most immediate threat to the Comcast/TWC merger is still in gaining approval from both the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, but these two companies should be as or more worried about speaking to the Senate. While the deal could go through, the Senate may craft new legislation to limit cable operators in the future. I’d expect the same senators that opposed the Comcast/NBCUniversal deal (*ahem* Sen. Al Franken [D-Minn.]) to speak up loudly during the merger discussions.