By now you’ve probably heard that Comcast has abandoned its push to acquire Time Warner Cable, due to looming concerns that both the Department of Justice’s antitrust division and the Federal Communications Commission were poised to recommend it blocked.
“Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
Now, both the DoJ and the FCC have issued official statements on the death of the merger, and they both sign a similar tune. A main concern for both the DoJ and the FCC, apparently, was Netflix (& other streaming services, of course) and Net Neutrality.
Take a look at FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s statement (bolding ours):
Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s decision to end Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers. The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests. Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice. The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation especially given the growing importance of high-speed broadband to online video and innovative new services. I am proud of our close working relationship throughout the review process with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. Our collaboration provided both agencies with a deeper understanding of the important issues of innovation and competition that the proposed transaction raised.
And here’s what Attorney General Eric Holder had to say:
The companies’ decision to abandon this deal is the best outcome for American consumers. The Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice has demonstrated, time and again, that it can and will defend the interests of the American consumer no matter the complexity of the issue or the size of the opponent. This is a victory not only for the Department of Justice, but also for providers of content and streaming services who work to bring innovative products to consumers across America and around the world. I commend the Antitrust attorneys and investigators whose outstanding work led to this outcome, and I know that the Department of Justice will continue to fight for fair access and free competition in every industry and every market.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Holder had already authorized the DoJ antitrust officials to file a lawsuit against the deal.
Netflix was vehemently against the merger from the beginning, as the streaming company was forced to pay Comcast a fee for access.
Netflix said that the merger would’ve “set up and ecosystem that calls into questions what we to date have taken for granted: that a consumer who pays for connectivity to the internet will be able to get the content she requests.”
It appears the feds agreed.