With Comcast hoping to buy Time Warner, many are raising specters of a cable monopoly that will harm consumers and restrict competition. However, this is not the case, as TF’s Berin Szoka explained in Mashable:
It’s easy to see Comcast as a “great digital boogeyman,” as Berin Szoka, president of Techfreedom, a libertarian tech policy think tank, told Mashable.
But Szoka warned that if you’re worried about net neutrality, “you should be thrilled” about this deal because Comcast is bound by a series of net neutrality rules imposed by the Federal Communications Commission as conditions to approve the merger with NBCUniversal. These rules prevent Comcast from discriminating among web services and impose protections for online video providers as well.
Comcast itself claimed in an investor presentation Thursday that the merger means “more communities will benefit from the public interest commitments” it made as part of the NBCUniversal deal.
While net neutrality might be dead for everyone else, it is alive and well for Comcast, which has to respect these rules until 2018 as the FCC ordered.
“Comcast has to provide to all [multi video programming distributors] at fair-market value and non-discriminatory prices, terms and conditions, any affiliated content that Comcast makes available online to its own subscribers,” Szoka explained.
Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times business columnist, wrote that after 2018, though, “the shackles are off.” But Szoka and Wallsten don’t think Comcast will change its behavior even then.