Three things that could kill the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger

Comcast Time Warner Cable Merger

Are you feeling excited about the officially announced merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable? If not then you aren’t alone β€” there are plenty of other groups out there who aren’t keen on letting the two most hated ISPs in the United States combine to form a broadband behemoth. The Wall Street Journal has written a handy little primer of all the challenges that Comcast will face in its quest to become the supreme overlord of American Internet service providers. In short, here are three groups that could help kill off the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice antitrust division: This is the most obvious place to start since the DOJ can essentially cap major mergers off at the knees. The DOJ tag teamed with the Federal Communications Commission back in 2011 to kill the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile and the result has been a vastly more competitive wireless market for American consumers. The antitrust case against a Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger might not be as clearcut, however, because Comcast and TWC don’t really compete with one another. This means that a DOJ case against the merger would likely revolve around the newly merged company’s market power of other key industries, namely…
  • Content providers: CBS famously got into a major spat with Time Warner Cable and temporarily pulled its channels from TWC’s service last year. However, CBS and other major entertainment conglomerates might think twice about playing hardball with a combined TWC and Comcast simply because its market power would be too high for them to risk losing out on business. Although Hollywood’s lobby isn’t as powerful as it once was, it still has a lot of clout and could make things very difficult for Comcast if it chose to do so. And speaking of powerful lobbies that could make things difficult for Comcast, let’s not forget…
  • Tech companies that are big net neutrality boosters: Google, Amazon, Netflix and other high-profile Internet companies really don’t like the idea of having a giant broadband conglomerate picking winners and losers in the marketplace. And given the recent court ruling that struck down the FCC’s old net neutrality rules, tech companies might be much more opposed to this merger than they would have been otherwise. The Journal says that Comcast will likely try to assuage their concerns by offering to extend the same net neutrality rules it accepted as part of its merger with NBC over to Time Warner Cable customers but that still might not be enough to make Silicon Valley comfortable.
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