Comcast, the cable provider seeking regulatory approval for its merger with NBC Universal, has used a filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to describe criticisms of the deal as "self-serving".
It is filing to the regulator yesterday, Comcast used strong language to claim that the deal would not have any significant adverse effect on the media and entertainment industries. Prominent critics of the deal have included politicians, consumer advocates and other media companies.
"Despite the self-serving claims of various competitors and the predictable responses from certain familiar critics, this transaction will not diminish competition in any relevant market," said Comcast in its 327-page filing, quoted by The Los Angeles Times.
"[T]he combined entity cannot and will not pursue anti-foreclosure strategies, despite the contrived efforts of certain opponents to show otherwise."
While Comcast argues that the negative effects described by critics are illusory, the deal is far from insignificant and the stakes are potentially high. Comcast is the US's largest cable operator, while NBC Universal - currently owned by General Electric - owns a range of sizeable assets including the NBC television network. A coalition of organisations and interest groups opposing the deal announced its presence earlier this month.
Senator Al Franken, a former television comedian who worked at NBC, used the confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to continue his attacks on the Comcast-NBC deal, suggesting that the result will be "a smaller marketplace of ideas".
Still, as Comcast points out, a merged Comcast-NBC entity would be far from attaining supremacy in the media and entertainment market, with lower assets than other giants such as Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney.
Comcast has sought to head off concerns expressed by various stakeholders throughout the year. It stepped up its attempts to lobby the federal government in the first half of the year, reporting lobbying expenditure of $6.9 million in the first half of the year, up from $6.1 million during the equivalent period in 2009.
Substantive steps taken include signing a diversity agreement with Hispanic community organisations last month, requiring Comcast among other things to appoint a Hispanic board member within two years, increase the number of Hispanic employees and add a new Spanish-language channel.
Earlier this month, it signed an agreement with the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), saying that it would give "real opportunities for independent producers on the Comcast/NBC platforms", but fell short of giving any binding guarantees.