As its competitors continue to weigh in regarding its planned $69 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, Comcast said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday that it now expects to gain the necessary regulatory approvals for the union in early 2015.
That is a few months later than the company rather optimistically expected when it announced the deal in February. At the time, Comcast said it expected to close the deal by the end of the year.
“We expect to complete the merger in early 2015 due to our current expectations regarding the timing of certain regulatory approvals, subject to satisfaction (or, to the extent permitted by applicable law, waiver) of the conditions to the parties’ obligations to complete the merger,” Comcast said in the filing. “However, no assurance can be given as to when, or if, the merger will be completed.”
Since announcing the deal, several competitors, regulatory watchdog agencies and industry associations have come out against the merger. On Monday, The New York Public Service Commission expressed “concerns” over the increased centration a Comcast-TWC merger would create, while not formally coming out for or against the deal. Later that same day Dish Network issued its formal opposition to the deal, adding that a combined Comcast-TWC could degrade online video offerings of competitors at key junctions on the network and could impose discriminatory data caps on competing services. Earlier regulatory watchdog groups like Consumers Union and Common Cause have said the deal would “harm competition, impede innovation by online video distributors, threaten innovation in equipment and platforms and reduce the diversity of information sources and services to the public.”
On Tuesday, the American Cable Association, an industry group representing about 840 mostly small and mid-sized cable operators, said the Comcast-TWC deal “threatens significant public interest harms that are not outweighed by the projected public interest benefits of the combination. Accordingly, should the Applicants fail to offer means of addressing these threatened harms, the Commission must consider the imposition of conditions, beyond those imposed in previous transactions, to ensure that the transaction will be, on balance, consistent with the public interest.”
Comcast executive vice president David Cohen blasted critics of the merger in a blog post Aug. 25, adding that some programmers have come out against the merger because they couldn’t negotiate better carriage deals in exchange for their support. Cohen added that there is substantial support for the merger from programmers, advertisers, community and diversity groups, schools and others.
In a blog post Tuesday, Cohen said that Comcast has received almost 400 “substantive supportive comments” from “a wide range of supporters, including business development and community organizations, diversity groups, advertisers, programmers, schools and universities, policy makers, and other prominent individuals.”
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