Ahead of a Justice Department meeting with Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC) to evaluate their proposed merger, some senators are launching a campaign to effectively block the deal.
Senator Al Franken, D-Minnesota, has been an outspoken voice against the marriage of the two cable and internet giants.
"This is a merger which would create a behemoth that would be anti-competitive and [it's] not in the public interest," Franken said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning." "What this would mean to consumers is higher prices, less choice, and -- if it's even possible -- worse service."
Comcast has promoted the deal by touting it as providing more choice for consumers. But the Minnesota senator shot down that argument, saying the merger would instead create a "giant company, unprecedented in size."
"This would be less choice, less competition," Franken said. "What we need is more competition if you want higher speeds."
The Minnesota lawmaker wrote a letter Tuesday that urged Attorney General Holder and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chief Tom Wheeler to reject the proposed merger. Five other senators signed on to the letter, including regulatory hawk Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts. The senators say in the letter that they've heard from consumers, companies and advocacy groups who all fear that the Comcast-TWC deal "would harm competition across several different markets and would not serve the public interest." The Justice Department and the FCC are the two federal agencies in charge of policing anti-trust laws.
Justice Department lawyers may recommend blocking the deal between the two companies, according to reports by Bloomberg News and other media outlets. They are concerned that the merger could give the new entity between 35 percent and 50 percent of the U.S. broadband internet market. The Justice Department could file a suit to prevent the deal, if they deem the merger too anti-competitive.
Franken is hopeful that the deal will not pass muster with the regulators.
"I think now the odds are they will be rejected," the Minnesota senator said, pointing to the support of his five colleagues in the Senate.
Comcast, which announced the $45.2 billion offer in February last year, would gain more than 30 million subscribers and nearly a third of the paid television market. The company has been hesitant to address the reports about the Justice Department's disapproval of the deal.
"We continue to believe that our transaction with Time Warner Cable will bring substantial benefits to consumers without any competitive harms," Comcast said in a statement on Friday. "We will continue to engage in our productive discussions with the government and do not see any value in commenting on rumors and speculation."