Comcast Plans To Buy Time Warner Cable For $45 Billion In Stock
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By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Comcast has confirmed that it plans to buy Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second largest cable company, for about $45 billion in stock. The merger would put the Philadelphia-based industry giant in tens of millions of homes in most major cities. The deal amounts to $158.82 per share, which is about 17-percent above Time Warner’s closing price Wednesday.
Critics of consolidation don’t like the deal one bit.
“I think this merger, if it’s allowed to go through, would be an absolute disaster for consumers,” said Craig Aaron, president of public interest advocate Free Press. “It would give Comcast way too much control over what Americans watch, read, and download every day.”
Aaron thinks Comcast customers would suffer from lack of competition, with the pain evident in their monthly bills.
“Consumers have real reason to be concerned about one company controlling so much of the media,” he said. “They’re going to be a dominant force in the market dictating what gets carried on cable TV all across the country and what doesn’t. Without Comcast’s permission, effectively, it’s going to be almost impossible to operate a cable television channel. Because if Comcast doesn’t want to carry it, the financial possibilities of someone else doing it are really, really limited.”
Not just on the small screen, Aaron says, but also your web connection — just as the debate over net neutrality heats up. (Just a few years ago, federal regulators approved Comcast’s $30 billion bid for NBCUniversal after the company agreed to conditions, like maintaining open Internet rules access for a seven-year period.)
“This thing dwarfs the AT&T/T-Mobile merger that was blocked by regulators just a couple years ago. This is the kind of proposed deal that is why antitrust laws were invented in the first place. So I think this is going to face serious Justice Department scrutiny.”
Despite Comcast’s deep ties in Washington.
“David Cohen of Comcast was invited to the state dinner with the French President just two nights ago. President Obama has gone golfing on Marthas Vineyard with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. They’re very well-connected.”
Appearing on the CNBC network on Thursday morning, Brian Roberts said all of Comcast’s competitors are national companies and this deal would put Comcast on equal footing.