In a three-hour hearing today (watch it here or embedded after the break; read the statements here), executives for Comcast and Time Warner Cable joined a few others taking questions about their proposed $45 billion merger. Unfortunately, after pushing a 180-page explanation of how great an idea the merger is to the FCC yesterday, Comcast's David Cohen and Time Warner Cable's Arthur Minson didn't have much new to say. Senators including Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee grilled the execs with questions about rising cable rates, channel bundles and network neutrality, mostly garnering the same answers we've heard before. Franken's questioning stood out, pointing out comments Comcast made during its acquisition of NBCUniversal citing Time Warner Cable as a competitor that could help keep it in check, even though now it says they don't compete for customers.
The prospect of the two companies joining to create one vertically integrated giant controlling both content and means of access to content for millions of people loomed over the proceedings. Comcast took the opportunity to announce higher speeds on two of its internet tiers in the Northeast, and call out its growing network of WiFi hotspots for customers, while once again promising new features and better tech for TWC areas. Still, with so many networks and access for 30 million customers potentially under one brand, Comcast/TWC's arguments about competition from Google Fiber, Netflix (which Comcast said it didn't fear in 2011), telcos and satellite didn't seem to hit the right notes.