Analysts may feel Comcast‘s just announced $45.2B all-stock deal to purchase Time Warner Cable is a good bet, but there will certainly be more than a few voices coming out against the mega-merger. One of the first to formally oppose the deal is the Parents Television Council. The sometimes controversial and always vocal advocacy group today said the deal “will invariably be anti-consumer and anti-family” in a statement. While the PTC is known for coming out against the TV rating system, on-air profanity and content, the group also has been consistent in its opposition to cable bundling — the source of its issues with the TWC-Comcast deal. “A horizontally and vertically integrated Comcast/Time Warner Cable entity would wield calamitous market leverage over consumers,” PTC president Tim Winter said today in a statement. “Unless and until Comcast – or, for that matter, any other potential suitor of Time Warner Cable – agrees to allow customers to choose and pay for only the cable networks they want coming into their homes, the Parents Television Council will vehemently oppose any such merger.”
The PTC has long advocated cable unbundling as part of its agenda, with the argument that the present system “forces families to underwrite explicit content.” The group isn’t the only one against bundling: Last May, Sen. John McCain introduced The TV Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 to, in part, end bundling, though that effort has been quiet since. Regardless, Comcast and TWC as well as investors will have to wait for a potentially long regulatory approval process from the FCC and the DOJ.
The PTC is that same group has fought losing battles like going after Howard Stern for providing “a sharp increase in explicit content” on America’s Got Talent before a single show with Stern had aired, and urged others to copy a Utah affiliate’s decision not to air NBC’s short-lived The Playboy Club because of its depiction of women (the ratings loser was cancelled quickly anyway). While the PTC was the major advocate of outcry over Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, it also got an earful from Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter after the group last year slammed what it called the “violent and sexually graphic premiere” of the latest season of the long-running FX series.
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