Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) praised the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for their unprecedented year-long extension of the conditions of the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger, which requires the corporation to continue to offer reasonably priced broadband options to consumers who do not receive their cable service from the company.
Sen. Franken has repeatedly pressed the FCC to monitor and enforce the conditions of the Comcast-NBCU merger, and extend the length of time of the conditions if Comcast violated them. This is the first time in the history of the FCC that it has extended the conditions of a merger.
"Consumers should not be forced to sign up for cable or satellite television as a condition of receiving Internet access, and today's announcement by the FCC is a huge win for consumers who have fewer and fewer options for obtaining affordable broadband service," said Sen. Franken. "I am pleased that the Commission took the unprecedented and historic step of extending Comcast's obligation to provide consumers broadband service at a reasonable rate without forcing them to buy any of the company's other services."
After the merger occurred, Sen. Franken wrote a letter to the FCC outlining his concerns that Comcast may have violated the conditions of the merger agreement and urged. the Commission to monitor and enforce conditions. This May he wrote a second letter noting additional concerns about Comcast's compliance with conditions. In both letters he specifically urged the Commission to extend conditions if violations have occurred.
Sen. Franken has been a strong opponent of excessive media consolidation. In 2010, during a Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights hearing, he questioned the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger and its potential effects on consumers. Later that year, he wrote a letter to the FCC detailing his concerns about the proposed merger. And in December 2010, a month before the merger was approved, Sen. Franken gave a speech on the floor of the Senate calling upon the FCC to act in the public interest instead of the corporate interest and stop the merger. He has also long been a proponent of strong net neutrality protections.