Comcast is an enormous company: the largest communications company in the world by revenue. It owns NBC Universal, Comcast cable, E! Entertainment Television, the Golf Channel, Universal pictures, theme parks, and digital voice and broadband Internet properties.
Time Warner is another enormous company: It owns cable operations in 29 states, local news and sports channels, Internet and cloud computing services.
Now the two plan to become one, merging the largest and second-largest cable providers in America to control a big share of the American cable TV market and put competitors in the shade.
What will this massive merger mean for cable competitors and the tens of millions of customers who buy cable, Internet, and other communications services?
Here's a look at some of the opinions our guest panel had on the deal.
The following opinion piece is authored by show guest Craig Aaron and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al Jazeera America's staff.
Comcast just announced that it’s buying Time Warner Cable. If approved, this outrageous deal would create a television and Internet colossus like no other.
Comcast is the country’s No. 1 cable and Internet company, and Time Warner Cable is No. 2. Put them together and you get a single giant controlling a massive share of our nation’s TV and Internet-access markets.
No one woke up this morning wishing their cable company was bigger or had more control over what they watch and how they get online. But that is the reality we’ll face unless the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission do their jobs and block this merger.
President, Free Press
Stopping this kind of deal is exactly why we have antitrust laws. After a year of sustained organizing, we convinced the DoJ and the FCC to stop AT&T from gobbling up T-Mobile.
This merger would put more than a third of all cable-TV subscribers in Comcast’s hands and give it control over more than half of the “triple-play” services that combine TV, phone and Internet service. Don’t forget, Comcast already owns NBC, MSNBC, Universal Studios and tons of cable channels. That means that for most of America, Comcast could control even more of what you see and how you see it.
Putting this much power in the hands of one company is dangerous. This deal would lead to less consumer choice, less diversity and much higher cable bills.
Tell the FCC and the DoJ to stop this merger today. This is a fight we can win.
The following is the opinion of show guest Berin Szoka and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al Jazeera America's staff.
I think the place to start these conversations is to make sure we know the facts. Groups like Free Press talk about this as if Comcast is going to be able to do anything it wants. That is clearly not true.
Net neutrality in general, I think it’s worth pointing out, is even, without conditions, even if it didn’t apply today, the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision —contrary to what you hear from Free Press — is that while it did strike down the Internet's order, it actually gave the FCC a very broad authority not only to police Net neutrality, but also anything else. The idea that the merger needs to be stopped today because the FCC won’t have power to govern abuses if it happens in future is flat out wrong. That is the beginning conversation.
We can disagree about how likely those abuses are, what those answers should be, but the threshold question today of if you block mergers because you’re afraid you can’t protect consumers down the road isn't right. There's no reason to believe that that’s true here. I haven’t even mentioned yet antitrust laws.
Comcast and Time Warner don’t compete with each other today. That’s what we call a vertical effect — because they are operating at different levels of market.
What the FCC can do is to ensure any deals that are struck are reasonable and nondiscriminatory, even without NBC merger conditions. That power is quite broad.
This panel was assembled for the broadcast of “Inside Story.”
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