Critics Celebrate Anticipated Comcast-TWC Deal Withdrawal

Comcast was not commenting at press time on reports that it was pulling the plug on its Time Warner Cable merger proposal, but critic of the deal certainly were.

The celebrations for the potential fall of the deal were already beginning.

"Comcast's withdrawal of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable would be spectacularly good news for consumers concerned about the spiraling costs of cable and broadband and for millions of citizens who want nothing more to do with gatekeeping and consolidation in the communications ecosystem on which our democracy depends," said former FCC chairman Michael Copps, who is now special advisor to Common Cause's Media and Democracy Reform Initiative.

"Comcast's apparent failure to take control of Time Warner Cable should be a lesson for the industry," said Free Press President Craig Aaron. "Communications giants should stop trying to consolidate and instead focus on providing the fast, affordable and neutral Internet services that Americans demand."

“The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) is gratified that Comcast/NBCU has dropped its bid to merge with Time Warner Cable," said the guild in a statement. "The purpose of the merger was to give the merged company even greater leverage over content creators, including our members, and over consumers.  Our members create shows and craft compelling stories, and their work is enhanced when there are multiple opportunities to obtain distribution, funding and direct access to audiences.  Their work (and therefore the audience experience) is diminished by the increased power of content-and-distribution behemoths like the proposed Comcast/NBCU/TWC.”

Comptel, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, and others who banded together as the "Don't Comcast the Internet Campaign," was also hopeful for the deal's death knell.

"The record in this transaction supports only one outcome: ending the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Consumers and competition will be the big winners if this merger is indeed blocked or withdrawn," the campaign said in a statement.

"Today’s announcement is a major victory for consumers and the future of communications in the U.S., said Benton Foundation director of policy Amina Fazlullah. "With high-capacity broadband growing in importance each day, more and more consumers are realizing that putting 50 percent of the broadband market into Comcast’s control would result in too much power in the hands of one company. Hopefully, moving forward, Comcast and Time Warner will take the path of competition over consolidation and consumers will benefit with more choices, better services, lower prices, and increased innovation."

"The collapse of this dangerous merger would be a giant victory for Latinos, and renew faith in US regulators," said Latino group Presente. "[W]e will continue to monitor the situation and strongly oppose the merger until the official withdrawal happens."

“If the media reports are accurate, today is a tremendous victory for consumers, innovators, and the future of the Internet," said Joshua Stager, policy counsel for New America’s Open Technology Institute. "This merger would have given Comcast the power to stifle small businesses, raise consumer prices, and undermine the Internet economy. Americans don’t need a gatekeeper who decides who wins and loses on the Internet — they need affordable, fast broadband and a competitive market. That’s why nearly 1 million Americans, a record-breaking number, have asked the FCC to block this deal."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.