Merger Demise Called ‘Huge’ for Consumers, Net

Related: Comcast Walks Away From TWC

The crash and burn of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal continued to draw applause from its critics as the deal was officially scrapped.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), arguably the deal's biggest congressional critic, called it a "huge" victory.

“This is a great day for American consumers," he said. "When Comcast’s proposal to buy Time Warner Cable was first announced 15 months ago, I came out against it, saying that it would be terrible for consumers. Tens of millions of Americans would have faced higher prices for cable and broadband services, fewer choices, and even worse service. It looked like a lost cause, especially given Comcast’s lobbying might: they hired an army of more than 100 lobbyists and spent millions of dollars on advertising to sell the deal. But more and more people came to see it the way that I did and joined the fight. People believe, as I do, that consumers should come first when it comes to technology policy. This was an uphill battle, and I’m enormously proud of our victory."

“Today’s news is the best possible outcome for consumers, who deserve innovative, thriving video and broadband marketplaces," said Jeff Blum, senior VP and deputy general counsel of Dish.

"The decision today reflects the clear consensus among consumers, competitors and policymakers not to Comcast the Internet," said Don't Comcast the Internet, a coalition of competitive video providers including COMPTEL, the Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance and NTCA- The Rural Broadband Association.

"Today is a huge victory for consumers and competition. COMPTEL commends the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission for their work on this merger, and we urge them to release their analyses so that all interested parties and the public will fully benefit from the year-long review of the merger," said COMPTEL in its own statement.

“Since the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger was announced 14 months ago, the WGAW has maintained that it should not be approved because of the irreparable harm it would cause to competition, consumers and content creators," said Writers Guild of America, West president Chris Keyser. "In recent weeks it became clear that regulators had similar concerns."

"We share with our allied organizations the satisfaction of knowing that this merger has been stopped and that both the public interest and writers’ interests have been protected.”

Consumers Union has been campaigning against the deal almost since the beginning.

“This mega merger was a sweet deal for Comcast but a poor one for consumers that would have hurt competition and stifled innovation,” said Ellen Bloom, senior director of federal policy for Consumers Union. “Comcast would have profited handsomely, while consumers ended up paying more and facing fewer choices."

The American Cable Association was not a big fan of the merger, but used its dissolution to look forward.

“Although the Federal Communications Commission no longer needs to review Comcast’s attempt to supersize itself by acquiring Time Warner Cable, the agency’s work is far from done," ACA president Matt Polka said. "The FCC should acknowledge now that the Comcast-NBCU merger conditions it put in place in 2011 have been ineffective at addressing the harms stemming from the troubling combination of Comcast’s cable assets with NBCU’s content. To protect distributors and consumers from the harms posed by vertical integration, the FCC needs to act on its long-pending program access and retransmission reform rulemakings and adopt ACA’s proposed solutions.”

"This is a historic victory in the fight to stop the consolidation of the corporations that control our access to the Internet,” said Josh Nelson, campaign manager at CREDO Action. “This victory belongs to the hundreds of thousands of activists nationwide who pressured the Department of Justice, Federal Communications Commission and state regulators to reject the merger. Without the scrutiny progressive grassroots activism brought to the debate, this anti-competitive, anti-consumer merger would likely still be on the table.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree (the former head of Common Cause) launched a petition via CREDO Mobilize urging attorney general Eric Holder to block the deal. According to CREDO more than 160,000 activists signed the petition.

"This was a bad idea from the start and although the big cable companies kept telling us it was going to be a good deal for consumers, the public knew better," said Pingree. "Tens of thousands of Americans spoke up and I think it became clear to Comcast they  weren't going to be able to get away with making themselves the only cable or Internet provider for millions of Americans. I think the FCC and the Department of Justice did their jobs and heard what the American people had to say..."

“Artists of all backgrounds welcome the news that Comcast is abandoning its plan to control even more of our nation's communications infrastructure,” said Future of Music Coalition CEO Casey Rae of the deal's demise. “Musicians and independent labels understand what happens when gatekeepers control access to audiences and are allowed to set the economic terms for our participation. We were here at the start of this fight and we’ll remain vigilant to ensure that our creativity has a chance to thrive wherever audiences connect.”

“Families and consumers have won this battle. If Comcast and TWC had merged, it would have created a giant with enormous control over nearly half of all TV sets in the country – and that union would have inevitably been anti-family and anti-consumer," said PTC president Tim Winter. "We are glad that the opposition to this merger was so strong and fierce."

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.