Fox’s Gasparino: Trump privately refers to Comcast as ‘public enemy No. 1’
Small cable-TV operators contend that Comcast Corp. gouges them for fees to carry Comcast-owned NBCUniversal broadcast and cable channels such as regional sports networks.
President Trump — taking his cue from Fox Business Network — tweeted on Monday to his 56 million followers that he supported a small lobbying group that wants the Justice Department to open an investigation into anti-competitive behavior by Comcast and its NBCUniversal unit.
The American Cable Association, a group with about 700 small cable members and 8 million cable-TV subscribers nationwide, released a statement Monday, saying that it had sent a five-page letter on Nov. 6 to Justice's antitrust division.
Small cable operators contend that Comcast gouges them for fees to carry Comcast-owned NBCUniversal broadcast and cable channels such as regional sports networks.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable-TV operator, is not a member of this association, and says it doesn't gouge.
"Trump does not like Comcast," Fox Business Network's on-air reporter Charles Gasparino told FBN host Neil Cavuto on Monday, speaking about the American Cable Association's letter in a video clip. "The president of the United States himself has privately referred to Comcast as public enemy No. 1."
The list of companies that Trump has attacked is long. These feeling the president's wrath include Macy's, Ford, GM, Merck, Facebook, Apple, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Harley-Davidson, CNN, Nordstrom, Toyota, Delta Airlines, and, of course, Amazon.
Shortly after the Gasparino/Cavuto segment aired, Trump tweeted that the cable association "has big problems with Comcast. They say that Comcast routinely violates antitrust laws," citing Gasparino.
Comcast denies that it violates antitrust laws.
Burning up the twittersphere, the Trump's anti-Comcast tweet garnered 33,000 likes in three hours and more than 6,000 comments Monday. Instead of criticizing Comcast, though, many commenters took Trump to task for neglecting to visit Arlington Cemetery on Veteran's Day or considered the whole issue a diversionary tactic.
"Someone is home watching TV in his jammies when he should be paying his respects at Arlington," responded @katieb1929 on Trump's Comcast tweet.
The tweet seemed to boost the heat between Comcast and Rupert Murdoch-controlled Fox Business Network, which competes with Comcast-controlled CNBC. Murdoch, whose family controls News Corp. and Fox News Network, is a Trump ally and foe to Comcast.
Comcast beat Murdoch for control of European pay-TV operator Sky in a London auction in September, agreeing to pay $40 billion. Murdoch, meanwhile, steered the sale of most of his entertainment assets, including the Fox movie studio, intellectual property, cable channels, and other assets to the Walt Disney Co., snubbing Comcast.
At the Justice Department, which oversees antitrust investigations, Trump last week requested the resignation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and appointed Matthew Whitaker as acting AG.
Comcast had no comment on Trump's tweet Monday.
In its response to the American Cable Association's letter to the Justice Department, Comcast said "the video programming and distribution markets are incredibly competitive. New programmers and distribution platforms are offering consumers increasing choices on what and where to watch. At Comcast NBCUniversal, we are competing in this dynamic environment the way we always have — by continuing to innovate and conducting our business in compliance with antitrust laws and other legal requirements."