Tags: Commentators | Blast | Comcast | Deal

Commentators Blast Comcast Deal

By    |   Thursday, 20 February 2014 07:49 PM

Commentators across the country are fuming over Comcast's effort to acquire Time Warner Cable.

If allowed, the acquisition will give Comcast monopolistic control over broadband and cable television, they say. The behemoth will be free to squash competition, raise prices, and wield outsized power over related industries.

"It just creates this massive player — this one entity that sits at the crossroads of everything," Michael Weinberg, a vice president at Public Knowledge, told the Huffington Post. "They don't just dabble in it. They dominate it."

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The Huffington Post compares Comcast to Standard Oil, the Rockefeller monopoly the government split up a century ago. That's not a flattering comparison. Known for strong-arm tactics, Standard Oil forced railroads to slash its prices for its shipments and drove small companies out of business by undercutting prices, forced them to sell out at bargain prices.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil was an illegal monopoly, not because it was large but because of its actions. The court concluded that Standard Oil, controlling 90 percent of U.S. oil production, held a monopoly that created higher prices, which harmed the overall market.

Like Rockefeller scooping up small oil outfits, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has swallowed cable firms, TV networks and other business. It's now the nation's largest cable company with revenue over $64 billion. In some markets, it's the only provider of both cable and broadband, which many say leads to higher prices.

With Time Warner, it would have about a third of the country's broadband subscribers and 30 million pay-TV subscribers, the Huffington Post reports. It could charge companies delivering streaming video higher rates, and other companies could be intimidated into accepting business with Comcast on its own terms.

Opponents are pressing the Justice Department and FCC to block the acquisition. Antitrust regulations allow the agencies to block mergers if they will "substantially lessen competition."

That's not a clear-cut judgment.

Roberts of course calls the acquisition "pro-consumer" and "pro-competitive."

If the deal proceeds, Comcast will hike prices to pay for its $45.2 billion acquisition, writes Patrick J. Sloyan for Cleveland.com. The cable giant has already been jacking up broadband prices, he says.

"Comcast Cable revenues were up 5.8 percent in the second quarter of last year when inflation remained at record lows. If the deal goes through, Roberts will control the rates charged to an estimated 38 percent of the nation's Internet users."

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Commentators across the country are fuming over Comcast's effort to acquire Time Warner Cable.
Thursday, 20 February 2014 07:49 PM
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