U.S. Senator Calls For 'Competitive' Cable Landscape Weeks After Wishing Fox, MSNBC Would 'Go Away'


The same U.S. Democratic lawmaker who wishes Fox News and MSNBC would go away also doesn't like the idea of Comcast merging with NBC Universal.

"I worry that a media merger of this size has the potential to leave consumers with lesser programming and higher rates," Sen. Jay Rockefeller wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski released Saturday.

While Rockefeller complains that the merger could lead to less competition and choice, it's a concern that apparently doesn't extend to consumers who might choose to watch Fox News or MSNBC, considering comments made by the West Virginia lawmaker a month ago.

"There's a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and MSNBC, 'Out. Off. End. Goodbye.' It would be a big favor to political discourse," Rockefeller said at a meeting in November.

Rockefeller's letter to Genachowski about the proposed Comcast-NBC Uni merger was dated Friday.

"It is vitally important that the commission studies the transaction carefully to make certain that the combination furthers the essential values of diversity, localism and competition that have long informed our communications policy," Rockefeller wrote.

The bit about racial "diversity" has been a common refrain among Democrats who express concern about the pending merger. In June, for example, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters grilled NBC Uni brass with questions like: "How many of the executive producers for your 2010 fall lineup are minorities?"

Other concerns expressed in Rockefeller's letter include that the merger would lead to less program access and the carriage of fewer independent channels, and could "hamper the development of the emerging online video market."

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