Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS

The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?

Comcast has branded Netflix, Discovery and others extortionists after they opposed the ISP's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable

In a dossier to US watchdog the FCC [PDF], Comcast claimed companies lobbying against its merger are hoping to force it into making concessions that benefit them.

Specifically, Comcast alleges Netflix is opposing the deal in order to coerce the telco into negotiating a favorable agreement on carrying its video stream packets – while Discovery Networks apparently wants Comcast to pay it higher fees to carry its channels.

"The significance of this extortion lies in not just the sheer audacity of some of the demands, but also the fact that each of the entities making the 'ask' has all but conceded that if its individual business interests are met, then it has no concern whatsoever about the state of the industry, supposed market power going forward, or harm to consumers, competitors, or new entrants," Comcast alleged in the massive 324-page filing to the FCC, dated Tuesday.

"The commission should take heed of this, because, while the Transaction is perceived as an opportunity for so many to leverage their individual interests, none has been able to make a fact-based, compelling argument that the Transaction would actually harm the public interest."

In response, Discovery said today "it is very unfortunate that Comcast is trying to divert attention away from the real issue."

"Comcast chooses to not talk about the substantial program discounts they currently get, or what they would do post-merger to demand extreme discounts from cable programmers or block the launch of new networks and brands," Discovery added.

Meanwhile, a Netflix spokesperson told The Register: "It is not extortion to demand that Comcast provide its own customers the broadband speeds they've paid for so they can enjoy Netflix. It is extortion when Comcast fails to provide its own customers the broadband speed they've paid for unless Netflix also pays a ransom."

Netflix and others have objected to the Comcast deal on the grounds that the merged Comcast-Time Warner entity would create a monopoly in the US cable market. Without anyone to challenge it in much of the US, the embiggened Comcast would be able to raise prices, and strong-arm websites into agreements on carrying their traffic.

Comcast, which once argued that it doesn't have much competition from Time Warner as it is, says it'll have viable competition, post-merger, in the form of DSL and wireless broadband services competeting against it.

That claim, however, has already been shot down by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who is on record as saying American consumers lack adequate choice in broadband providers and also face expensive migration costs when switching between cable and other broadband platforms. ®

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