(Repeats story released earlier on Thursday with no changes)
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON May 8 Comcast's plan to merge with
Time Warner Cable Inc is expected to face criticism from
an independent network, small and medium-sized cable operators
and a former Internet partner when U.S. lawmakers meet on
Thursday for a second time to discuss the controversial deal.
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee's antitrust
panel will hear from Comcast Corp Executive Vice
President David Cohen.
The company argues its proposed $45 billion deal to merge
the No. 1 and No. 2 U.S. cable operators would not hurt
consumers since the companies overlap geographically in very few
Among the critics due to testify is Dave Schaeffer, CEO of
Cogent Communications Group Inc, which has been a
high-speed go-between for Netflix and Comcast. In February,
Netflix Inc agreed to pay Comcast an unknown sum to
Shaeffer said in prepared testimony that, after years of
free connections "Comcast demanded that Cogent enter into a
commercial relationship" to remedy Netflix's balky speed.
Shaeffer said Cogent offered to pay for some hardware costs,
but that Comcast had remained silent.
In Comcast's prepared testimony, Cohen argued that Netflix
chose the option of a direct connection and that such deals are
neither novel nor unusual.
Netflix has been critical of the agreement it made, with one
executive calling it "double-dipping" since Comcast customers
and Netflix both pay to have the movies and television shows
delivered to living rooms.
A second critic of the merger to testify will be Patrick
Gottsch, founder of Rural Media Group, whose RFD-TV channel
provides programs aimed at farmers and about rural living.
Gottsch complained that, after Comcast bought NBC Universal
in 2011, it dropped some television channels.
"Because there is no clear business reason to understand
Comcast's decision, we can only speculate that RFD-TV has become
competitive with Comcast's affiliated programming," Gottsch
wrote in his testimony.
The American Cable Association's Matthew Polka also worried
about video programming and urged the Justice Department and
Federal Communications Commission, which must review the deal,
to ensure Comcast does not raise prices or withhold shows from
Comcast said on April 28 that it was willing to divest
nearly four million subscribers to win approval for the deal.
That will leave Comcast with 29 million subscribers if the deal
The deal was reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on
(Reporting by Diane Bartz. Editing by Ros Krasny and Andre