Government opposition has forced cable giant Comcast to end its $45 billion plan to buy Time Warner Cable, it acknowledged on Friday morning.
In a statement, Comcast head Brian Roberts explained regulatory barriers to the merger of the nation’s two largest cable companies had forced it to abandon its plans.
"Today, we move on,” Roberts said. “Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away."
“I couldn't be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what's next."
Friday’s formal announcement comes after weeks of speculation that the tide had begun to turn against the companies, who announced their ambitious merger plans one year ago. It also signifies new boldness at the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission, which both applauded Comcast’s announcement.
“The companies' decision to abandon this deal is the best outcome for American consumers,” said Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderDemocrats look to state courts as redistricting battle heats up On The Trail: Census kicks off a wild redistricting cycle Biden under pressure to pick new breed of federal prosecutors MORE in a statement.
“The Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice has demonstrated, time and again, that it can and will defend the interests of the American consumer no matter the complexity of the issue or the size of the opponent,” he added. “This is a victory not only for the Department of Justice, but also for providers of content and streaming services who work to bring innovative products to consumers across America and around the world."
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler similarly said the deal’s demise “is in the best interests of consumers.”
“The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation, including to the ability of online video providers to reach and serve consumers,” Wheeler added.
The deal would have made Comcast by far the nation’s largest cable provider, with control of about 30 percent of the market. Perhaps more troubling for many critics, the company would also have been the high-speed Internet provider for about half the nation.
Because Comcast also owns NBC Universal, opponents had feared it would have had the ability to prioritize its own slate of programming over rivals, pushing out smaller companies and blocking new entrants into the market.
The collapse of the deal also ends an associated transaction with Charter Communications, which was scheduled to receive more than 1 million subscribers spun off from the companies.
Speaking on CNBC Friday morning, Roberts would not comment on the specifics of talks his company had with federal regulators. But he defended the company’s compliance with the terms of its previous merger with NBC, which had reportedly been a sticking point.
“We have a great company. Employees love working for the company, I believe, and we can always be better. We are working hard to do that, and today we move on," he said on "Squawk on the Street."
— David McCabe and Mario Trujillo contributed; updated at 9:16 a.m.