Comcast has spent ungodly sums lobbying the government to sign off on its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable but right now that investment is looking like a massive bust. The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast knows the government at the moment is unlikely to approve the merger, which is why it’s making a last-minute blitz this week to see if there are any concessions it can offer that will get the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission to support the deal.
“Comcast and Time Warner Cable are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials to discuss potential remedies in hopes of keeping their $45.2 billion merger on track,” the Journal explains. “One of the options that the FCC is considering is to designate the merger for a hearing, people familiar with the agency’s thinking said. A hearing order would put the merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, a move which would be seen as a sign that the FCC isn’t convinced the deal would be good for the public.”
In case you don’t remember, the FCC also designated the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger for a hearing back in 2011, which was essentially the final nail in its coffin.
At this point it’s not clear what Comcast or TWC could give to the FCC or DOJ to convince them the merger should be allowed to go through. The two companies’ reputations are somewhere below the reputations of Skeletor and Cobra Commander, and their claims that their merger would benefit consumers has generally elicited howls of laughter from everyone who has ever subscribed to them for TV or Internet service.
Anything that would make the merger acceptable to the FCC or DOJ would likely weaken the companies’ hold on the home broadband market in the U.S., which is something we can’t see them agreeing to.