Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Dems concerned about Charter-Time Warner Cable merger

LEDE: Democratic concerns over the Charter-Time Warner Cable deal are growing.

“It is critical that the DOJ and FCC thoroughly address all of the potential harms a Charter-Time Warner Cable-Bright House Networks deal would bring to the telecommunications marketplace and consumers and act to prevent any possible harm,” five progressive senators wrote in a letter delivered to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Thursday.

It was signed by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Sanders is fighting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.

{mosads}In it, they raise concerns that the post-merger version of Charter would, along with Comcast, have a duopoly over the cable market. That’s a key argument of the public interest groups that oppose the deal. The lawmakers also raise concerns about the merger’s effect on video services and ask whether Charter’s debt would make it impossible for the firm to fulfill the commitments they’ve made as part of the merger.

In a statement, Charter noted Netflix’s support for the merger as well as backing from multicultural organizations and programmers. “These parties have taken a close and honest look at the benefits of these transactions and have all come to the same conclusion: these transactions are in the public interest,” the company said in its statement.

OTHERS ASK FOR CLOSE REVIEW: The progressives’ message comes a week after Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent Lynch and Wheeler a letter asking them to “closely review” the transaction, which would combine Charter with Time Warner Cable as well as smaller operator Bright House Networks. Both messages come more than halfway through the non-binding “shot clock” that governs the process.

APPLE EXPECTS ROBUST SUPPORT IN COURT: During a conference call announcing Apple’s new motion to oppose a government order to help law enforcement unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, an Apple executive said the company expects robust filings in favor of Apple’s position. Just hours earlier, Microsoft announced that it would be filing a brief next week, while other companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter are reportedly also planning filings. 

‘GOVT-OS’ WOULD TAKE WEEKS: In the company’s court filing, Apple estimated that it would take 6-10 Apple engineers anywhere from two weeks to a month to create the software that the FBI requested, which it has dubbed “GovtOs” — a system what would override some security features on the iPhone’s lock screen so that the FBI could try an unlimited amount of number combinations to unlock phones. 

PRES CANDIDATES SIGN ONTO NET NEUTRALITY REPEAL BILL: GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) were among a group of eight that signed onto a new bill that would repeal the FCC’s net neutrality rules and prevent the agency from writing similar ones in the future.

FCC #TBT: Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the adoption of the FCC’s net neutrality rules. The rules, of course, have been challenged in court and the subject of countless op-eds and speeches in Washington since they were adopted.

ON TAP: 

At 10 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on 3D printing.

At noon, Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai will speak about net neutrality rules at the Heritage Foundation. 

At noon, the Washington Institute will speak with Facebook’s Monika Bickert about Internet security in the age of the Islamic State

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

To mark the one-year anniversary of passage of net neutrality rules, a group of eight Republicans introduced legislation to repeal the regulations. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ordering his company’s employees to stop crossing out the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on the company’s famous signature wall.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder used the birth name of basketball icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as an alias for his official Justice Department email account, according to new documents revealed Thursday.

A House panel on Thursday approved a bill that would temporarily keep small businesses exempt from some net neutrality rules.

Political upstart Ro Khanna tried to paint eight-term Rep. Mike Honda as ineffective and out of touch with his Silicon Valley district in 2014. Honda survived the challenge, but only barely.

Tags Al Franken Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Charter Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Eric Holder Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio merger Mike Lee Ron Wyden Ted Cruz Time Warner Cable
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