Comcast, Time Warner Merger Is Not Going Smoothly
Credit: ryanoshea
January 29, 2015

I, for one, am pleasantly surprised that Comcast may not be able to share its unique blend of extortion and bad customer service throughout the entire country. Via the L.A. Times:

Comcast Corp.'s bold move to buy rival Time Warner Cable in a $45-billion deal once seemed inevitable.

Wall Street figured combining the nation's two largest cable operators wouldn't have much problem clearing regulatory hurdles. Both companies operate in different parts of the country, and wouldn't be seen as anti-competitive. Subscribers, including 1.8 million in the Los Angeles region, would have the same number of choices for pay-TV as they currently do.

But that was 11 months ago — and a lot has changed.

Now, it is unclear whether the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission will give Comcast their blessing.

"They've had a lot of trouble, more than they thought they would — and rightly so," said Gene Kimmelman, a former top lawyer in the Justice Department's antitrust division who now leads advocacy group Public Knowledge, which opposes the Comcast-TWC merger.

Here's the rub for Kimmelman and others: The new Comcast would be the nation's dominant supplier of high-speed Internet service. The company would boast 30 million customers in major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas, San Francisco and Seattle.

Streaming service Netflix, satellite giant Dish Network, lawmakers and others have voiced concerns that Comcast could use this grip to stifle development of the Internet video business. In a sense, Comcast would have an incentive to beat back online challengers to its core business of bundling cable TV channels.

Meanwhile, a parade of major TV network executives have privately met with federal investigators, outlining their worries about a bulked-up Comcast, according to people involved in the meetings who were unauthorized to speak publicly. They fear Comcast would use its size and influence to undercut how much programmers such as CBS, Viacom and Discovery are paid for their channels.

Comcast, for its part, maintains the regulatory review of its acquisition is proceeding on schedule.

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