Collapse of Comcast-Time Warner Merger Will Benefit Internet Users

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-04-25 Print this article Print
Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger

What's also telling is the common theme of the opposition. Everyone, it seems, is pretty certain that Comcast would become the 1,000-pound gorilla of the Internet. "Comcast and Time Warner Cable's decision to end Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a prepared statement released to the press after the end of the merger was announced. "The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and the video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests."

"Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice," Wheeler said. "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."

Just how much of a problem this might have been was demonstrated in 2013, when Comcast, then a silent partner in the Hulu steaming service, blocked the sale of the service to AT&T and DirecTV, despite a billion dollar offer that was seen by many observers as being a premium price. According to reports in The Washington Post, this was viewed by the Justice Department as a demonstration of how Comcast would use its size and influence to control the Internet.

Of course, public pressure also played a role, as noted in a prepared statement by Common Cause President Miles Rapoport, "As we saw in February when the FCC adopted strong rules to protect the free flow of information online, citizen voices can still make a difference in our government's decision-making. More than 800,000 Americans told the FCC that the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger would be bad for competition and innovation; their arguments were well-founded and have now carried the day. This is their victory."

So what's next for Comcast? Perhaps now that Comcast isn't spending all that money on a doomed merger attempt it can do something that actually benefits consumers, like lowering prices.


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