House Dems want video hearing in wake of AT&T-Time Warner deal

House Dems want video hearing in wake of AT&T-Time Warner deal
© Greg Nash

Top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday asked for a hearing into the market for video services in light of the proposed purchase of Time Warner by AT&T.

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“Given the current environment, it is not surprising that traditional communications companies are seeking to diversity and expand holdings of content,” said ranking Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who is the top Democrat on the panel’s technology subcommittee.

“Our role in the Energy and Commerce Committee is to provide oversight of these markets and to gain better insight on the impact on consumers."

They said that video is still a “driving force in the future of communications” and pointed to the AT&T acquisition as emblematic of changes in the video market. The lawmakers sent the letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the committee, and to tech subcommittee chairman Rep. Greg Walden.

“Over the top” services like Netflix and Hulu have changed the ways Americans consume video content. So has the proliferation of smartphones.

AT&T’s $85 billion proposed purchase of Time Warner — whose properties include HBO and CNN — comes against a backdrop of a changing video landscape. The company hopes that it can combine its sprawling distribution networks with the content produced by the company.

The deal has yet to be approved by regulators and is expected to receive significant regulatory scrutiny.