Comcast is touting its proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable as a great deal for consumers, but there’s not much evidence to back up that claim. The deal raises significant red flags about competition, customer service and costs, and federal regulators must keep these concerns in mind as they make this critical decision.
Comcast has promoted the deal as a way to make sure more customers get “a superior video experience, higher broadband speeds, and the fastest in-home Wi-Fi,” along with “significant cost savings.”
But the market share of the two merged companies would be 30 percent of U.S. cable subscribers and almost half of all subscribers to combined cable, phone and/or Internet service. With Comcast being so much bigger than the other players in the industry, it wouldn’t have much motivation to upgrade technology or implement efficiencies that will yield more customer satisfaction and “significant cost savings.”
What’s more, this mega-company would control access to a lot of information. Even if everybody drops cable to watch TV or movies online, they still need to be able to get on the Internet, and “there’s no reliable DirecTV for Internet,” as Brian Barrett of the technology blog Gizmodo puts it. At a time when consumers have access to a greater array of content than ever before, it makes no sense to give them fewer means of accessing that content.
The Federal Communications Commission is supposed to approve the merger only if doing so would serve “the public interest.” We hope the panel sees that this deal, as structured, would do anything but.