WASHINGTON, D.C, November 30, 2010. — Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports and this blog, is stepping up its effort to urge federal regulators to reject Comcast’s bid to buy NBC Universal.
Today the consumer organization unveiled a 10-by-22-foot mobile billboard with a tongue-in-cheek image of a boa constrictor that resembles a TV cable. The “cable constrictor” is seen wrapped around a TV set, and the tagline reads “Don’t Constrict Choice – Reject the Comcast Buyout of NBC.”
The mobile billboard is snaking through the streets of Washington this week, while ads featuring the “cable constrictor” will appear in print and online media aimed at D.C. policymakers.
The print and online ads point readers to a web site – SayNoToComcastNBC.org – where they can write the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about the proposed deal.
The campaign is the latest effort by Consumers Union against the combination of Comcast, the nation’s largest provider of cable TV and residential broadband Internet service, and the NBC programming empire.
Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said the deal would create a media giant with great potential for abusive behavior. A combined Comcast-NBC, she said, could lead to higher prices for consumers and further consolidation of media choices.
“Regulators should reject Comcast’s buyout of NBC because it’s a bad deal for consumers and competition,” Desai said. “In this economy, consumers should not be at risk of higher prices for cable and Internet service. While the companies have said they won’t engage in anticompetitive practices, Comcast has earned deep distrust. Comcast routinely raises rates, requires customers to buy packages of channels they don’t watch to get the few they do, and slaps stiff penalties on people who want to move to another broadband company for better service. Allowing Comcast to take over the content by NBC Universal could mean consumers would pay higher prices and have fewer media choices.”
In the upcoming issue of Consumer Reports, a Consumers Union editorial says, “CU’s deep concerns about the proposed deal are about more than size. The merger would create a media conglomerate of incredible power and reach. Left to its own devices, Comcast/NBCU could manage and manipulate the creation and delivery of entertainment, news, and information to its liking. And Comcast/NBCU would be free to charge competitors higher prices to access its programming. Inevitably, those costs would be passed on to consumers.”