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Ogden signs support of Comcast/Time Warner merger

Tualatin mayor and 51 others support controversial merger of cable and Internet companies


Ogden was one of several mayors across the country to sign a petition calling for a merger between Comcast and Time Warner.Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden is the only mayor in Oregon to sign a letter supporting the merger of broadcast and cable giant Comcast with Time Warner Cable.

A letter signed by 52 mayors from across the country in support of the the merger was sent to the Federal Communications Commission earlier this summer.

Since the letter and its supporters were made public in August, the mayor has received several emails from concerned residents, upset about the ramifications on the Internet if the merger were to go through.

At issue is the idea of Net Neutrality, the thought that all Internet data should be treated equally by the government and Internet providers. Lately, Internet users have worried that this may change.

In February, Internet provider Comcast and cable provider Time Warner proposed a merger, which they say won't jeopardize competition and lead to a monopoly because there isn't crossover in their coverage areas. The deal, in which Comcast would buy TWC for $45 billion, according toThe New York Times, has led to feelings commonly ranging from concern to outrage from some.

The concern is that the Internet will change as we know it by allowing companies to charge different rates to different users, or for different types of content.

Earlier this year, Comcast allegedly forced streaming service Netflix to pay more for its services by slowing down its loading speeds. (Netflix eventually paid up, according to numerous sources, including Time Magazine, which also wrote that Comcast denied that the debacle had anything to do with net neutrality.)

'Trying to get whole perspective'

Ogden said he signed the letter out of the best interest of the people. Based on the letter, the merger would lead to better, more well-rounded service, Ogden said.

“I didn't spend a whole lot of time contemplating, researching, or analyzing,” he said. “I've been criticized before for admitting my ignorance.”

Comcast has also historically supported community events, and Ogden said he hasn't received any more complaints about their service within Tualatin than any other company.

“I don't know why I got the letter,” Ogden said. “I don't know any other Oregon mayors who received it. I'm not saying they didn't, but I've talked to about half a dozen (others), and they haven't.”

Ogden received the letter from Philadelphia, Penn., mayor Michael Nutter, seeking his support. The two have worked on committees together in the past, so it wasn't strange for the East Coast politician to reach out, Ogden said. Comcast is based in Philadelphia.

When Ogden signed the letter, he said he wasn't aware of the blatant hatred for the companies --- Comcast was named Consumerist's 'Worst Company in America' this year, with Time Warner Cable not far behind --- but he said that he was glad to hear from residents with a different viewpoint on the merger.

“I've appreciated every (conversation I’ve had about it),” Ogden said. “I honestly mean it, because these folks are telling me stuff that I hadn't considered was an issue, like net neutrality and the ability for a company to become more monopolistic.

“I'm trying to get the whole perspective here,” he added. “There's nothing in the letter that is nonsensical. What I didn't know, or what was not in the letter, was addressing some of the concerns that have been brought up.”

Ogden said that he has since learned more about the merger, but said he won’t be retracting his endorsement of the merger, at least not yet.

“I don't think I have a need to retract what's in the letter,” he said. “If there's more info and another side that needs to be amplified, I'm certainly happy to support the other side to the degree that it makes sense and I understand it. If there's more to be told, I'm certainly open-minded and willing and happy to participate.”



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