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Comcast/Time Warner Merger Draws Support from Mayor

Buffalo, NY (WBEN/AP) - It isn't hard to find people who are critical of the proposed Time Warner/Comcast merger.

From articles and blogs, even to people walking the street, the idea of the nation's two largest cable operators joining forces doesn't seem consumer-friendly. The proposed $45 of Time Warner by Comcast would create a cable giant that would control roughly 33 million cable subscribers in the US, or 33% of the countries cable viewers.

"I think it eliminates another competitor if they merge, the only other competition (in WNY) they have now is Verizon," said one man at Canalside Tuesday. "I think it's going to be a bad thing because it's going to cut down on competition, and hearing of the service Comcast gives, I haven't heard very good things about it," said another man.

It appears that one of the people in support of the merger is Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. Brown is one of 52 Mayors from across the country who signed a letter to the FCC in support of the two companies joining together. The letter states that "the combination of these two American companies will bring benefits to every affected city," and says it will encourage other companies to grow alongside the new conglomerate.
On Tuesday, Brown explained the reasoning behind his support.

"Looking at the potential of the merger legally, we feel very strongly that the merger is going to go forward, that there's not going to be any reason the merger would be prevented," Brown said. "We see signing on to support a merger that we think is going to happen anyway as a way to begin to build a positive relationship with Comcast."

Brown says his signature doesn't mean he won't be on the people's side when it comes to issues of service and price. "My providing this letter of support will not prevent me from joining with citizens and citizen groups if something is happening that is not in the best interest of the public, but we feel strongly that the merger is going forward."

Brown is far from the only politician to get involved in the merger talks.

Senator Charles Schumer recused himself from any role Congress plays in Comcast's planned acquisition of Time Warner after learning his brother was one of the lead lawyers behind the $45 billion deal.

Federal regulators and lawmakers will scrutinize how the acquisition would affect competition and consumers, issues that could have come before the New York Democrat as a member of the Senate's Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee.

Schumer's office said he didn't know his brother Robert represented Time Warner Cable when his office issued a statement saying he had gotten a commitment from a top Comcast executive that the company would go ahead with plans announced by Time Warner to open a new call center that would employ 250 to 300 people in Buffalo.

While the statement focused on the western New York jobs, Schumer also said he urged the company "to maintain the entire TWC workforce in New York and consider adding to their presence."

He added that "while there was no guarantee, my expectation is that Comcast will invest in New York, as they did after the merger with NBC, and the results of the merger will be positive for New York."

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Locations : BuffaloNew YorkWestern New York
People : Byron BrownCharles SchumerrecusedRobert
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