Congressional letter cautions FCC, DOJ on Verizon-cable deal

Communications Workers of America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 9, 2012

U.S. Representatives from Across Country Express Concern over Proposed Verizon/Big Cable Deal
As opposition to the deal grows, elected officials urge the FCC to protect consumers and preserve competition

Washington, DC - Today, 32 members of the U.S. House of Representatives released a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski expressing concern about the proposed Verizon Wireless/Big Cable deal's impact on consumers in their districts and across the country. The letter urges the FCC to ensure that the final agreement falls in line with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by preserving a healthy level of competition in the industry. In its current form, the proposal would eliminate competition by allowing the companies to cross-market each other's products--thereby killing or preventing the creation of thousands of jobs, deepening the digital divide between cities and wealthy suburbs, reducing consumer choice, and raising prices.  

The 32 U.S. Representatives who signed on to the letter include: Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Timothy Bishop (D-NY), Robert Brady (D-PA), Bruce Braley (D-IA), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Michael Michaud (D-ME), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-CA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). The group represents a diverse range of urban and rural areas both inside and outside the Verizon footprint--showing widespread concern among elected officials about the impact of the proposed deal on their communities.

The letter is the latest in a series of moves by elected officials and community leaders to express concern about the deal in its current form.

Earlier this year, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino detailed the economic dangers of the deal for urban areas in comments to the FCC, while the Maryland Chapter of the NAACP filed comments explaining how concentrated power in the industry would put poor and minority communities at further economic disadvantage. In May, Senator Herb Kohl raised concerns in a letter to Chairman Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder that, under the deal, the company would lose incentives to bring its high-speed fiber optic FiOS service to new areas. At the same time, nine mayors of cities in New York State signed on to a letter to the Department of Justice and the FCC, expressing concern that the deal would have a devastating impact on their communities. And on June 13, Representatives Edward J. Markey, one of the authors of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, released a letter calling on the FCC and Department of Justice to scrutinize the deal.

"Today's letter makes it clear that there is strong opposition to the cross-marketing agreements in the Verizon/Big Cable deal in its current form," said Debbie Goldman, CWA Telecommunications Policy Director. "As it stands, the proposal represents a serious threat to consumers, particularly those in urban centers already facing a widening digital divide. Elected officials are right to be concerned, and we urge the FCC to take their concerns into account as they consider this deal."

U. S. representatives from across country express concern over proposed Verizon/big cable deal (CWA news release, Jul. 9, 2012)

Congressional letter to FCC, DOJ (U.S. House of Representatives, (Jul. 9, 2012)