Speed bump: Comcast’s $45 billion merger gets delayed

20150327_slowed2Big news for cable customers this week: Comcast’s controversial, $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc. has been tripped up by regulatory delays.

The two largest U.S. cable companies hoped the deal would be finalized in “early” 2015 but now say they expect it to close in the middle of the year.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put its 180-day review on hold because of an ongoing court dispute involving Walt Disney Co. and other big content providers that don’t want regulators airing private details about their contracts with pay-TV providers.

The acquisition—which requires approval from both the FCC and the Justice Department—would allow Comcast to control a third of the cable and satellite market, and half of the bundle video and Internet market. Consumer advocates worry such a superpower would crush competition—resulting in higher prices, poorer customer service and stunted innovation.

Almost one year ago, more than 2,400 CUB followers asked the FCC to reject the proposed megamerger or mandate the companies to make major concessions, like:

  • Mandatory compensation to customers who suffer poor service;
  • An “a la carte” cable option allowing customers to only pay for channels they choose;
  • Company policies that uphold and promote the FCC’s new net neutrality standards. (Read: Comcast can’t force websites to pay more for service to avoid blocked or slower content.)

About Jim Chilsen

Jim is director of communications for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)
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