US Department of Justice expected to block Comcast-Time Warner merger

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2015
As Apple is said to be in talks with content owners for its own upcoming streaming television service, the U.S. Department of Justice appears poised to block a proposed Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable.




U.S. antitrust lawyers are said to be leaning against the proposed Comcast-Time Warner deal, according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg. Reacting to the news, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken penned an op-ed reiterating his own opposition to the potential merger, which he believes would be bad for consumers.

Comcast hopes to buy rival cable operator Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion, making the nation's largest Internet and TV company even bigger. Such a deal could have major implications for Apple and others who cut deals for content, and also require home Internet use for services like iTunes and Apple TV.

Franken was also an opponent of Comcast in the net neutrality debate, and helped to successfully convince the Federal Communications Commission to regulate Internet service providers under the Communications Act. This prevents ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner from creating so-called "Internet fast lanes."

In his latest scathing critique, Franken calls Comcast "greedy and dishonest," noting that the cable provider has prioritized its own content and networks it owns over rivals. In one example, after its purchase of NBCUniversal, Comcast prioritized its own CNBC network over rival Bloomberg.

While the NBCUniversal deal went through, he's hoping that public opposition to a Comcast-Time Warner merger could help convince the DOJ to block it.

"No company should be entrusted with the kind of dominant market position Comcast is seeking in this deal, especially when the company in question has proven that they simply can't be trusted," Franken said.




Scrutiny of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner deal comes as Apple is said to be in talks with content providers for a forthcoming subscription TV service, which is rumored to launch this fall for between $20 and $40 per month.

Apple is reportedly in talks with Disney, CBS, 20th Century Fox, Discovery, and Viacom to bring their content to a new streaming service that would bow this fall. Pricing is thought to fall between $20 and $40 per month, and the company is reportedly offering to share viewership data with content owners to entice them to cooperate.

Potential content talks with Comcast over its NBCUniversal programming were said to have stalled, but the DOJ could force Comcast to ink a deal with Apple per the terms of its purchase of NBCUniversal. Under the regulatory concessions agreed to by Comcast in 2011, the company must treat online video services as essentially equal to cable companies.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Cool... now retroactively go in and invalidate their obscene acquisition of NBC.

    Or better yet, split Comcast (and Time Warner) into separate ISP and Cable companies, and make them divest one or the other.
    That the same company who's primary income is from cable packages also owns the pipeline for the only competition is insane. We all know that Big Cable's tactic on cable cutters will simply be to jack up internet prices.

    Internet has become just as basic a basic utility as electricity, and needs to be regulated as such.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    rp2011rp2011 Posts: 159member
    Hell yeah I hope so. These two monopolies have delivered crappy service since customers have no choice but to swallow whatever crap they offer. And they want to strengthen their monopoly? **** no!
  • Reply 3 of 17

    Comcast clearly didn't pay them enough.

  • Reply 4 of 17
    ktappektappe Posts: 808member

    Sweet. We all needed some good news this Monday.

  • Reply 5 of 17
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GQB View Post



    Cool... now retroactively go in and invalidate their obscene acquisition of NBC.



    Or better yet, split Comcast (and Time Warner) into separate ISP and Cable companies, and make them divest one or the other.

    That the same company who's primary income is from cable packages also owns the pipeline for the only competition is insane. We all know that Big Cable's tactic on cable cutters will simply be to jack up internet prices.



    Internet has become just as basic a basic utility as electricity, and needs to be regulated as such.



    100% agree. This fact is why a la carte TV will not be a cheaper alternative that everyone assumes it should be.

  • Reply 6 of 17
    ds92jzds92jz Posts: 90member

    Monopolies are what helped build this country.

  • Reply 7 of 17
    waterrocketswaterrockets Posts: 1,231member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ds92jz View Post

     

    Monopolies are what helped build this country.


     

    I wonder how a monopoly might find itself in a such a position of influence? Surely no other companies would have been able to contribute at that level, right?

  • Reply 8 of 17
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I know a few people (pretend to?) love to shed salty tears for the poor, harmless corporations who just want to assert their God-given rights over mere people, but Time-Warner is bad enough without joining an even worse company to be an even bigger monopoly!

    I was getting ready to leave T-W, and the other options here are pretty bad. I'd love not to have to.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    I wonder how a monopoly might find itself in a such a position of influence? Surely no other companies would have been able to contribute at that level, right?

    Grease the palms of the right politicians, and you too can have a natural monopoly.
  • Reply 10 of 17
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 1,143member
    FANTASTIC!! Yes!!!!!!!
    It would have been disasters!
  • Reply 11 of 17
    frankiefrankie Posts: 378member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ds92jz View Post

     

    Monopolies are what helped build this country.




    And are now what's destroying it.

  • Reply 12 of 17
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by frankie View Post

     



    And are now what's destroying it.




    Which monopolies and what are they destroying?

  • Reply 13 of 17
    moreckmoreck Posts: 187member
    "...helped to successfully convince the Federal Communications Commission to regular Internet service providers..."

    I'm pretty sure you mean regulate. :)
  • Reply 14 of 17
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,429member
    frankie wrote: »

    And are now what's destroying it.

    Spot on. Perfect succinct response to blind worship of capitalism. I won't be so succinct:

    Monopolies are not just recently destroying the nation. They've crippled the very growth and development of the nation. For example: The USA has garbage for mass transit because of the automotive industry monopolies. They were found guilty of killing rail services and were fined ... about $10,000 or something ludicrously microscopic. Instead of a well developed rail infrastructure, we have more automobiles than people and considerable waste of resources and tons more pollution (including noise pollution).

    The impact of monopoly abuse just gets worse every quarter. These telecom companies have lost the mission. They think they're in the business of selling contracts. That's how they behave. They're supposed to be behaving like a service provider that is compensated for service. That means maintaining the infrastructure, not passing it off in any way possible while raising prices for profit (rather than maintenance costs).

    Et cetera.

    American capitalism has run its course. It has seriously damaged the global economy and is destroying society everywhere it gets any foothold.

    But hey, plutocratic oligarchy is what built this country, right? Oh wait, not true. There was once a democratic republic, which is now dead in all ways but propaganda and blind nationalism ("monopolies built this country" indeed...).
  • Reply 15 of 17

    Blocking the merger would be one of the best things that happened to consumers in a while. The challenge is that Comcast is very well connected politically so the game is not over yet.

     

    NBC's broadcast of the Olympics Games is a prime example of how Comcast has used its monopolistic practices to drive up costs for consumers.

     

    Several years ago NBC won the rights to broadcast the Olympic games through 2020. NBC offered to pay the IOC (International Olympics Committee) hundreds of millions of dollars higher than their closest competitor. The IOC waited until AFTER Comcast's purchase of NBC was approved to start the bidding process. The calculation was well known. NBC assumed that it could use the broadcast of the Olympic Games to drive up the subscriber fees of their new NBC Sports Network to justify the millions of dollars extra it paid for the broadcast rights. NBC felt comfortable that this was a safe bet because now that they were owned by Comcast, NBC no longer had to negotiate with its parent to get the fee increase which of course is passed on to the consumer. It could then leverage this increase to get the same with other cable carriers.

     

    Then NBC and Comcast did something even more suspicious. AFTER Comcast announced it wanted to merge with Time Warner, NBC purchased 12 more years of Broadcast rights from the IOC. The IOC for some reason did NOT open the bidding to any other broadcasters but somehow negotiated exclusively with NBC. NBC purchased the rights to the Olympics for even more than they had paid for the rights in the past. Who ever heard of a sports league no opening up their rights to be bid on by other broadcasters? This was unheard of!! But of course with Comcast's monopoly, there would be little chance that other broadcasters could offer more money to the IOC.

     

    It was pretty obvious that the executives at Comcast felt that if their merger with Time Warner went through, that it would be even easier to raise the subscriber fees it gets for the NBC Sports Networks and this justified an even higher payment for the broadcast rights.

     

    These fees are of course passed through to everyone in your cable bill and a direct result of Comcast power. 

     

    In my opinion this deal should be investigated by the Justice department.

  • Reply 16 of 17
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dysamoria View Post



    American capitalism has run its course. It has seriously damaged the global economy and is destroying society everywhere it gets any foothold.

     

    That's because it's not really capitalism anymore, and hasn't been for about a century.  The U.S. is far closer to fascism, economically, than capitalism anymore.

Sign In or Register to comment.