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Debate heats up over Comcast merger and the protests begin

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Not long after Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced a $45.2 billion merger agreement the protests began.

Many groups raised the question of whether the merger should be allowed, stating that unprecedented market dominance would be bad for consumers. The proposed merger would create a company with a 70% share of the cable market in the United States.

The non-profit public interest group Free Press has already started their Stop the Merger campaign, and a Whitehouse.gov petition has already been posted asking to stop the merger.

Consumer groups claim that a company with market dominance such as the one proposed would increase prices. Net neutrality supporters fear that the new entity could virtually wipe out any competition.

Comcast's media market dominance

Comcast Corporation is the largest mass media and communications company in the world by revenue. It is the largest cable company and home Internet service provider in the United States, and the nation's third largest home telephone service provider.

Comcast also owns and controls a major portion of what is going out over the cable with their ownership of NBC Universal. Comcast's $30 billion acquisition of NBC Universal was approved by the Justice Department, along with the Federal Communications Commission, in 2011.

Many people point to the Comcast NBC Universal approval as the basis for current net neutrality concerns. Many terms and conditions were attached to approving the merger that made it clear that Comcast should not show favoritism to and NBC Universal content. According to a Washington Post article, most of the conditions for the merger apply for seven years.

Many people speculate that similar terms and conditions would apply to the Time Warner acquisition. The approval process for the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is expected to take several months.

How big is NBC Universal?

You really start to understand the depth of Comcast's reach when you consider the content they control with their purchase of NBC Universal in 2011.

NBC Universal was formed in August 2004 by the merger of NBC with Vivendi Universal Entertainment.

Universal Studios, also known as Universal Pictures, is one of the six major movie studios.

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) has eleven owned-and-operated television stations and nearly 200 affiliates in the United States.

NBCUniversal News Group includes NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC, and The Weather Channel.

The NBC Sports Group includes the Comcast Sports Group, Golf Channel, NBC Sports, NBC Sports Digital Network, and NBC Sports Network.

NBCUniversal Hispanic Enterprises and Content group contains American Spanish-language broadcast television network Telemundo and mun2 aimed towards a young Latino audience.

NBC Universal Cable oversees the distribution, marketing, and advertisement sales for television channels Bravo, Chiller, Cloo, E!, Esquire Network, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, Universal HD, USA Network, Bravo Media, Esquire Network, Oxygen Media, Sprout, and TVOne.

The debate begins

The final approval of the merger will drag on for several months as the Justice Department and the FCC sort through the issues. In the months ahead many online protests and groups will be stating their case to stop the merger.

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What's on your mind today?

Follow us on social media as we report the issues and help you to understand the questions raised by the Comcast and Time Warner merger and net neutrality.

Do you think giving cable and phone companies the legal right to block any website or service is good?

Check out this commentary on the need to be saved from the internet pirates, Comcast and Verizon.

If you don't care about net neutrality, then you really need to read these thoughts on the fight for internet freedom.

Look for Tom Peracchio on the net ... The Guru 42 Blog, @Gu42 on Twitter , Guru42 on Google+ or Guru42 on Facebook

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