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Paul Merrell

Lawmakers Change Their Tone on AT&T and Time Warner Deal - The New York Times - 0 views

  • When AT&T and Time Warner announced their $85.4 billion deal in October, lawmakers greeted the acquisition frostily. Now their tone is changing.

    At a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that was being closely watched for how mega-mergers will be viewed in the coming Trump administration, members of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that oversees regulatory agencies that decide on mergers said the deal merited tough scrutiny. The chief executives of AT&T and Time Warner were grilled at the hearing about a range of issues related to the deal.

    But in a change from previous comments, lawmakers also questioned whether traditional ways of evaluating mergers are growing outdated as Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google become massive media platforms that threaten the television industry. Their tone was more circumspect than those that immediately followed the deal’s announcement, when lawmakers had been more critical.

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    I think it plain that we need a flat ban on the same company controlling both an ISP and a content company. Comcast, the ISP/content company has proved that it's willing to misuse its ISP powers to disfavor other content companies such as Hulu and Netflix via network throttling. AT&T plus Time Warner would undoubtedly do the same. And Comcast led the charge against net neutrality, attempting to expand its revenue base from its ISP subscribers to include new charges on content providing companies. We need a clean separation between ISPs and content companies.
Paul Merrell

Comcast Plans to Drop Time Warner Cable Deal - Bloomberg Business - 0 views

  • Fourteen months after unveiling a $45.2 billion merger that would create a new Internet and cable giant, Comcast Corp. is planning to walk away from its proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said.

    The decision marks a swift unraveling of a deal that awaited federal approval for more than a year. Opposition from the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission took shape over the past week, leaving officials of the two companies to conclude the deal wouldn’t pass muster.

  • Comcast’s board will meet to finalize the decision on Thursday, and an announcement may come as soon as Friday, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Time Warner Cable executives plan to tell shareholders on an earnings conference call next Thursday how the company can survive independently, the person said.
  • On Wednesday, FCC staff joined lawyers at the Justice Department opposing the transaction. That day, FCC officials told representatives of the two companies they are leaning toward concluding the merger doesn’t help consumers, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

    The FCC’s plan to call a hearing effectively killed the deal’s chances of success. An FCC hearing can take months to complete and drag out the approval process beyond the companies’ time frame for completion. Bloomberg News reported last week that Justice Department staff was leaning against the deal. Senators including Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, also voiced opposition.

    “Comcast’s withdrawal of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable would be spectacularly good news for consumers,” Michael Copps, a Democratic former FCC commissioner working with Common Cause to oppose the deal, said in a statement.

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    Looks like all that online lobbying from the internet community worked. 
Paul Merrell

FCC Putting Comcast/Time Warner Cable Investigation On Hold - 0 views

  • On Friday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said that it has extended its time to file responses and oppositions for the Comcast/Time Warner merger from October 8 to October 29. This is due to a motion filed by DISH Network, which said that Comcast didn't fully respond to the Commission's Request to Responses and Oppositions.

    The FCC is taking 180 days to determine if the Comcast and Time Warner merger will be in the best interest of the public. As of Friday, the investigation was at day 85, and it will resume once October 29 arrives. Originally, the investigation was expected to be complete on January 6, 2015.

    According to Reuters, a number of competitors and consumer advocates have rejected the merger, stating that the combined entity will have too much power over American consumers' viewing habits. Comcast disagrees of course, indicating that Time Warner is not a competitor and that their combined forces would bring better subscription services to a larger consumer audience.

  • Back in August, the FCC sent questions to both Comcast and Time Warner Cable asking for additional information about their broadband and video services, such as their Web traffic management practices. However, the FCC said on Friday that both companies failed to provide enough answers to please the merger reviewers. Comcast disagrees but said it will work with the reviewers to provide the missing information.

    "We will work with the staff to determine the additional information the FCC is seeking (including the document production that the FCC had asked us to delay filing) and will submit supplemental answers and documents quickly thereafter so that the FCC can complete its review early in 2015," Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice told Reuters.

  • Currently, the FCC is trying to retrieve Comcast's programming and retransmission consent agreements, but media companies have objected to the collection, saying that these documents are highly confidential. However, the documents have made their way to the Justice Department, which is conducting its own review for antitrust issues.

    The delay in the FCC's deadline also stems from a large 850-page document supplied by Comcast. The FCC indicated that this volume of information is critical to the investigation.

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