Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

February 26, 2014

House of Burgess: Planet Comcast Time Warner Cable

$45.2 billion deal awaits FCC approval.

There has to be a more fitting word for what’s about to happen in the telecom­mun­ications industry, but “oligopoly” is the only one I can come up with.

“Comcast Corp. will buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $45.2 billion in a deal that would combine the nation’s top two cable TV companies and create a dominant force in creating and delivering entertainment,” reported The Associated Press Feb. 13.

“The all-stock deal, which was approved by the boards of both companies, trumps a proposal from Charter Communications to buy Time Warner Cable for about $38 billion. It is expected to close by the end of the year, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.”

The news made my stomach turn for many reasons and all at once.

For one, I was upset at the future prospects for net neutrality, which has been looking bleaker by the day. Net neutrality means the Internet should be charged for equally, regardless of use. Historically, Comcast has fought hard against this idea.

“Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally,” reported the AP’s Peter Svensson Oct. 19, 2007. For years afterward, Comcast carried out a policy of capping users. (This policy has since been altered. “On May 17, 2012, we announced the suspension of our 250 GB usage allowance and that we would trial and launch new data usage plans,” reads Comcast’s XFINITY Support page.)

Comcast agreed to abide by the principles of net neutrality — for now — as a Federal Communications Commission condition of the company’s $13.8 billion acquisition of NBC Universal from General Electric Co. “The consent decree, which is designed to protect competition, extends through the end of 2017. Time Warner Cable would also be subject to these same terms, if the merger is consummated,” reported Dawn C. Chmielewski of The Los Angeles Times Feb. 13.

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