Given that it hasn’t happened within the previously projected timeframe of ‘early 2015’, that headline is perhaps a bit obvious. But nevertheless, Comcast has officially pushed back the timeframe for closing the purchase of Time Warner Cable to ‘the middle of the year’.
A few weeks ago, the FCC paused its ‘shot clock’ as it continues to sift through all the data. Now, it’s not as if anyone really believes that the answer to their questions is contained within the mountains of documents they’ve requested to help them make their decision. The questions here are a bit more existential, and regulators are having trouble convincing themselves they can do whatever it is they think they should.
When two geographically distinct companies that basically don’t compete against each other merge, consumer choices aren’t directly affected (except in that their ability to use geography to escape their current provider is reduced). Yet the sheer size of the combined company that would result gives everyone the willies, because there are less direct effects that are harder to measure but which don’t add up to a coherent opposition. No matter how hard the FCC looks at the data, it’s not going to become clear just how the final result will play in the market, whether you are talking about buying power for programming, share of internet eyeballs, or congested peering points.
But perhaps it’s simpler than all that. One could argue that the Title II net neutrality push took all the regulatory mojo that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had for Q1. It’s possible that he knows what he’s going to do already, but simply needs to reload.
If you haven't already, please take our Reader Survey! Just 3 questions to help us better understand who is reading Telecom Ramblings so we can serve you better!Categories: Cable · Government Regulations · Mergers and Acquisitions