President Trump on Monday lashed out at Comcast after a group representing small cable providers asked the Department of Justice to investigate the company over antitrust concerns.
“American Cable Association has big problems with Comcast. They say that Comcast routinely violates Antitrust Laws,” Trump said in a tweet, adding that the group believes Comcast’s merger with NBC poses greater anticompetitive concerns than the recent AT&T-Time Warner merger.
American Cable Association has big problems with Comcast. They say that Comcast routinely violates Antitrust Laws. “These guys are acting much worse, and have much more potential for damage to consumers, than anything AT&T-Time Warner would do.” Charlie Gasparino
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2018
The ACA wrote to the Justice Department last week arguing that vertical mergers where pay-TV providers like Comcast and AT&T combine with companies that offer programming give the merged firms the “incentive and ability to disadvantage rival distributors by raising the prices it charges these rivals for programming.”
“ACA expects – and there is every reason for DOJ to expect — Comcast-NBCU to act on its natural incentives and use its capabilities to harm rivals, unless the government somehow, either through structural or behavioral remedies, deals with them,” the group wrote.
The president’s attack comes after a Fox Business article suggested the Justice Department could be following through with an investigation.
A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the president’s tweet.
Comcast said in a statement that the American Cable Association’s complaint is “without merit” and “constitutes an inappropriate attempt to gain leverage in the commercial marketplace.”
“The video programming and distribution markets are incredibly competitive. New programmers and distribution platforms are offering consumers increasing choices on what and where to watch,” the company said in a statement to The Hill.
“At Comcast NBCUniversal, we are competing in this dynamic environment the way we always have — by continuing to innovate and conducting our business in compliance with antitrust laws and other legal requirements.”
Trump’s Justice Department is currently appealing a federal judge’s decision to approve the AT&T-Time Warner merger.
But the agency chose not to renew a set of behavioral restrictions it imposed on the Comcast-NBC tie-up in 2011 that expired in September.
The Justice Department said it would be monitoring Comcast now that the conditions were no longer in effect.
The president has routinely lashed out at the Comcast-owned NBC News over its coverage of his administration, even going so far as to suggest that it’s “license” should be revoked.
But the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t issue broadcasting licenses to networks, only to individual stations, and it doesn’t revoke them based on the content of the licensee’s programming.
Trump has no public events scheduled on Monday, and has tweeted on a number of subjects, including the heated Florida elections, the stock market and the deadly wildfires ravaging California.