Bloomberg News

Comcast Pledges Web for Poor as It Meets With FCC on Time Warner

March 04, 2014

Comcast Service Technician

Comcast Corp. in 2010 offered to create and sustain a program of inexpensive Internet connections for the low-income for three years. Photographer: Bradley C. Bower/Bloomberg

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US) vowed to help more low-income families connect to the Internet as a top executive began meeting today with U.S. regulators who will review the company’s $45.2 billion bid for competitor Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC:US)

A program that offers eligible families Internet service for $9.95 monthly will be extended indefinitely, David L. Cohen, an executive vice president for Philadelphia-based Comcast, said on a conference call with reporters. The program, Internet Essentials, has enrolled 1.2 million people, Cohen said.

Cohen is to hold meetings at the Federal Communications Commission today and possibly tomorrow, said two agency officials knowledgeable about the plans who asked not to be identified because the talks aren’t public. Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, needs approval from the FCC and antitrust officials at the Justice Department for its proposed purchase of New York-based Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 carrier.

Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokeswoman, confirmed meetings at the agency this week and said they would be Cohen’s first at the FCC to discuss the acquisition, which was announced Feb. 13.

Cohen said on the conference call that his “major job in Washington today is to talk about Internet Essentials.”

“But when I talk to folks in Washington about the Time Warner Cable transaction I will be emphasizing, really, multiple different pieces,” he said.

Low-Cost Internet

Comcast in 2010 offered to create and sustain a program of inexpensive Internet connections for the low-income for three years. The offer came as it sought permission to buy NBC Universal, which it won in early 2011, adding to its stable a television network, movie studio and cable channels such as CNBC, MSNBC and USA Network.

The Time Warner deal would create “appropriate scale” that enables Comcast to invest in new services, and would create a new national advertiser to increase competition in that market, Cohen said.

The deal would allow the expansion of Internet Essentials to “millions of additional families” in markets served by Time Warner Cable in such cities as New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, Cohen said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net Elizabeth Wasserman, Romaine Bostick


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Companies Mentioned

  • CMCSA
    (Comcast Corp)
    • $56.74 USD
    • -0.11
    • -0.19%
  • TWC
    (Time Warner Cable Inc)
    • $153.16 USD
    • -0.35
    • -0.23%
Market data is delayed at least 15 minutes.
 
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