FCC Dem: Telecom mergers the result of online competition

Mergers in the communications space are a reaction to increasing competition from online and other video providers, according to Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission.

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As online video grows and Internet access increases, “we’re going to all be sovereign and capable of curating all sorts of activities using web-based functions [in] the future,” she said Wednesday at an event held by The Hill.

This year has seen a number of proposed and reportedly forthcoming mergers in the telecom industry, including Comcast’s proposed $45 billion deal to merge with Time Warner Cable, AT&T’s proposed $49 billion merger with DirecTV, recent reports that 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch offered $80 billion to buy Time Warner and a reportedly forthcoming Sprint, T-Mobile merger.

The Comcast and AT&T proposals are currently in front of the FCC and the Department of Justice.

In their proposals, Comcast and AT&T have pointed to the increasing online and mobile video options as a rationale for increasing their own size.

Without commenting on any specific proposed or reported mergers, Rosenworcel said the consolidation in the telecom industry is a reaction to the increased competition traditional video companies face from online video.

“I think all of the activity you’re seeing right now is a response to that change,” she said.

The incumbents are “jockeying and positioning, trying to figure out what the future looks” like,” she continued, predicting that “television will change more in the next five years than it has in the last five decades.”

She declined to predict what exactly the next few years’ worth of technological innovation will look like, but she said she expects it to be exciting.

“I think we’re living through an incredible period of change,” she said.