Comcast’s merger makes massive cable greater, however not higher or cheaper
In a 3-hour listening to right now (watch it right here or embedded after the break; learn the statements right here), executives for Comcast and Time Warner Cable joined a number of others taking questions on their proposed $forty five billion merger. Sadly, after pushing a one hundred eighty-web page rationalization of how nice an concept the merger is to the FCC yesterday, Comcast’s David Cohen and Time Warner Cable’s Arthur Minson did not have a lot new to say. Senators together with Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee grilled the execs with questions on rising cable charges, channel bundles and community neutrality, principally garnering the identical solutions we have heard earlier than. Franken’s questioning stood out, stating feedback Comcast made throughout its acquisition of NBCUniversal citing Time Warner Cable as a competitor that would assist hold it in examine, regardless that now it says they do not compete for patrons.
The prospect of the 2 corporations becoming a member of to create one vertically built-in big controlling each content material and technique of entry to content material for hundreds of thousands of individuals loomed over the proceedings. Comcast took the chance to announce larger speeds on two of its web tiers within the Northeast, and name out its rising community of WiFi hotspots for patrons, whereas as soon as once more promising new options and higher tech for TWC areas. Nonetheless, with so many networks and entry for 30 million clients probably underneath one model, Comcast/TWC’s arguments about competitors from Google Fiber, Netflix (which Comcast stated it did not worry in 2011), telcos and satellite tv for pc did not appear to hit the correct notes.
Shopper advocate and CEO of Public Information Gene Kimmelman, who opposes the merger, was additionally on the panel and referred to as out the potential menace of the market being concentrated at a single level of connection. Whereas he stated that they are not essentially doing it now, Kimmelman stated the merged Comcast/TWC would have extra energy “to favor one product over one other if it is financially advantageous.” The cable corporations have been additionally taken to activity for his or her poor customer support reputations, an space the place Cohen admitted maybe they wanted a kick to do higher. However, regardless of insisting that there isn’t any proof a merger would increase buyer’s charges and scale back selection, he additionally stated they did not anticipate to see decrease buyer costs.
Choices some clients are on the lookout for like a la carte programming or web streaming to different units have been additionally disregarded of Comcast’s reasoning. Cohen pointed to programming-rights points for a few of these considerations, which is sensible after Time Warner Cable confronted a Viacom lawsuit over its TWC TV service. Nonetheless, as Franken put it, confronted with over one hundred lobbyists arguing for the merger to occur, and signatures from over one hundred,000 clients towards it, there’s large concern it’s going to result in greater costs and worse service. There are nonetheless probably months of push and pull forward over the potential deal, and we’ll have an interest to see if Comcast makes it occur with a collection of concessions