NYT protests Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal

 

The New York Times editorial board wants regulators to block the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

In an editorial on Tuesday, the newspaper warned that the deal would turn the country’s two largest cable providers into one single behemoth.

“The merger will concentrate too much market power in the hands of one company, creating a telecommunications colossus the likes of which the country has not seen since 1984 when the government forced the breakup of the original AT&T telephone monopoly,” it said.

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“By buying Time Warner Cable, Comcast would become a gatekeeper over what consumers watch, read and listen to,” it added. That could further incentivize major video companies like Google, which owns YouTube, to sign the kind of deals that Netflix recently forged with Comcast to ensure that its users get fast Internet speeds.

“This could put start-ups and smaller companies without deep pockets at a competitive disadvantage,” the Times said.

Even though Comcast is pledging to shed some of its consumers in the merger, the company would still control nearly 30 percent of the cable TV market and about 40 percent of the high-speed broadband Internet market.

Public interest advocates have said that would give it too much power to push out smaller competitors and, because Comcast already owns NBC Universal, dictate what channels and content people get to watch.

The Times board seemed to share those concerns.

The acquisition, it said, “would fundamentally change the structure of this important industry and give one company too much control over what information, shows, movies and sports Americans can access on TVs and the Internet.”

Cable company executives have responded to the consumer interest protests by noting that the two companies don’t currently compete in any of the same markets. That should make the deal an easy one for antitrust regulators to approve, they say.

The merger proposal is currently being reviewed by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission. Executives have hoped for final approval by the end of the year. 

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