Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., recently wrote to the Department of JusticeâÄôs head of antitrust issues urging it to prevent the potential merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. He, along with federal regulators, became rightfully upset when Comcast announced who would fill certain management positions if the merger, still under Federal Communications Commission review, was approved. “Comcast may be seeking to indirectly exert managerial and operational control of [NBC Universal],” an act which would violate federal law, the letter warned.
That Comcast would be confident enough in the mergerâÄôs approval to announce a leadership team now shows how toothless the federal government has become toward anticompetitive businesses and economic concentration. Healthy competition is necessary for healthy free markets, yet few Republicans or Democrats have shown concern for anticompetitive and monopolistic behavior by corporations, which is particularly prevalent in cable television and Internet providers like Comcast.
In the post-Citizens United era of massive political donations by huge corporations, politicians have little incentive to challenge monopolistic business practices. Massive telecommunications mergers, the vertical integration of the food industry and the domination of media markets by a single company all continue with little government action, despite harming competition.
It is encouraging that Franken has assumed a watchdog role. More congressmen should follow his example.