The $45 billion deal announced late Wednesday night for Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable is being flagged by consumer protection advocates as a glaring violation of antitrust regulations. But the CEO of Comcast, for one, seems pretty sure that the deal will go through.
"We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't think we could get it approved," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told CNBC this morning. "We spent a lot of time thinking about it."
Philadelphia-headquartered Comcast and New York City-headquartered Time Warner Cable announced in a joint statement today that their boards had approved an all stock merger. Comcast would acquire all of Time Warner's 284.9 million shares of stock.
"It's a really special transaction for both Time Warner Cable and for Comcast," Roberts said. "The deal is pro-competitive, it is pro-consumer. We are going to be able to bring better products, faster internet, more channels, on demand, TV everywhere, and a national-local platform that is really special."
But a merger between Comcast and Time Warner – the No. 1 and No. 2 cable companies by subscriber count – into one behemoth has already raised red flags among regulators and consumer groups.
In particular, Ajit Pai, one of the commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory body that would have to approve the deal, has said that the merger would likely not go through the current Democratic administration.
"An outright acquisition by Comcast of Time Warner Cable could face a number of hurdles in the Obama administration," Pai told The Wall Street Journal in December, before a deal was announced. "A Republican administration likely would be more inclined to approve a deal."
Consumer advocates were up in arms, saying that the merger would put individual customers at a significant disadvantage to have to buy cable from a near monopoly.
"Comcast cannot be allowed to purchase Time Warner Cable. Antitrust authorities and the FCC must stop it, " said John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, in a statement. "An enlarged Comcast would be the bully in the schoolyard, able to dictate terms to content creators, Internet companies, other communications networks that must interconnect with it, and distributors who must access its content."
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