The coming wave of television provider mergers will leave viewers with fewer choices and higher prices in the opinion of many consumer advocates. Satellite players Dish Network and DirecTV are the latest to hold talks about combining resources in response to the proposed $45 Billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Competition is slipping away as the big get bigger and smaller companies fall by the wayside. Verizon who once had grand plans for TV and internet service announced in late 2012 that they have suspended construction of their FIOS network. The high cost of fiber installation was one of many factors that led to their decision. This leaves a landscape consisting of only one or two providers in many markets across the United States.
Legislators on Capitol Hill have begun to take notice, with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) leading the charge against the proposed Comcast-TWC merger. In a letter to the FCC and FCC he writes, "Cable rates have risen significantly over the last two decades, and my constituents express frustration at being squeezed by unacceptably high cable bills every month. Many consumers would switch cable providers if only they had a viable option to do so. Unfortunately, a handful of cable providers dominate the market, leaving consumers with little choice but to pay high bills for often unsatisfactory service. I am concerned that Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner would only make things worse for consumers."
Many Americans appear to agree with Sen. Franken. In a Reuters poll out last week, 52% say that the merger will be bad for consumers, 22% say that it will result in improved service. The cable industry has long been plagued with complaints on service and consumer satisfaction.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Comcast-TWC merger for April 9th, stay tuned!