Cable giant Comcast is hoping some last minute meetings can keep the company on track to become a monopoly in the broadband sector.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast and Time Warner Cable are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials to discuss potential remedies in hopes of keeping their $45.2 billion merger on track, according to people familiar with the matter.
The parties haven’t met face-to-face to hash out possible concessions in the more than 14 months when the deal was announced.
Staffers at both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission remain concerned a combined company would wield too much power in the broadband Internet market and give it unfair competitive leverage against TV channel owners and new market entrants that offer video programming online, said people with knowledge of the review.
One of the options that the FCC is considering is to designate the merger for a hearing, people familiar with the agency’s thinking said. A hearing order would put the merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, a move which would be seen as a sign that the FCC isn’t convinced the deal would be good for the public.
“Mergers are never put to hearing in order to approve them,” said Robert McDowell, a former Republican FCC commissioner. “They are designated for a hearing in order to kill them.”
Combining the two companies would give Comcast 30% of the pay-TV market, but more importantly, it would give them nearly 60% of the broadband service market.
Comcast and TW presented their deal as a straightforward cable merger that doesn’t reduce consumer choice since cable operators don’t overlap geographically, but the increased market share in broadband Internet has been under more intense scrutiny.
And let's be honest, that's where the future lies and Comcast knows it.