Comcast Today: Washington Post Cautiously Endorses Merger

Today’s Comcastic headlines:

Washington Post cautiously endorses Comcast-Time Warner merger: Some merger supporters overstate the extent of competition the cable industry faces. At the moment, there are few broadband services as attractive as the wired connections cable companies sell. That might change, but it is not clear how fast and in what way. Merger defenders also downplay the conflicts of interest that might encourage firms such as Comcast to promote their products on the wires they own, about which critics are speculating. That is not grounds to take the severe step of blocking a proposed merger. But it is reason for federal regulators to keep a close eye on what cable companies, still huge players in how we communicate and consume culture, end up doing to competitors and upstarts — and to set clear conditions that allow a crackdown, if necessary. (Washington Post)

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Comcast Today: Merger Faces Washington Skepticism

Comcast takes it’s merger case to Washington today. It’s going to be controversial. Let’s check the headlines:

Comcast Gears Up to Persuade Regulators: Comcast presented regulators on Tuesday with 650 pages of reasons to approve its takeover of Time Warner Cable, saying a merger of the two largest cable television companies would spur rather than inhibit competition by encouraging rivals to improve their cable and high-speed Internet service. Comcast is not relying on legal filings alone to try to win what is expected to be a bruising battle with the deal’s opponents. The company has already been busy briefing lawmakers and their staffs, particularly from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Wednesday to examine the proposed merger’s antitrust implications. Comcast also recently added to its small army of lobbyists two former legislative aides who advised the Judiciary Committee on antitrust matters. (New York Times)

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Comcast Today: Comcast Will Spend $2.5 Billion on Stock Buybacks

Comcast shareholders: It may be your lucky day….

Bloomberg reports:

Comcast Corp. is planning to increase its share buyback program by more than 80 percent if investors approve its $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc., boosting shareholder returns.

Comcast will add $2.5 billion to the current plan for $3 billion in 2014 buybacks if shareholders vote for the deal, Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis said in an interview. A planned sale of assets to complete the deal may produce cash for even more repurchases, he said.

Comcast’s shares rose as much as 2.1 percent to $50.39 after Bloomberg News reported the buyback proposal. The shares gained 1.1 percent to $49.88 at 9:51 a.m. in New York.

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Comcast Today: States Will Scrutinize Time Warner Merger, Too

It’s not just the federal government that will scrutinze Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner. The states are coming, too.

Reuters reports:

Florida and other U.S. states will join the Justice Department in seeking to determine if Comcast’s plan to merge with Time Warner Cable is legal under U.S. antitrust law, Florida said in a statement to Reuters.

“We are part of a multistate group reviewing the proposed transaction along with the U.S. DOJ (Justice Department) Antitrust Division,” the Florida state attorney general’s office said in an emailed statement.

The attorneys general group is focused on broadband rather than cable in assessing the $45.2 billion deal, according to a source familiar with the effort who was not authorized to speak on the record.

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Comcast Today: Is NBC Turning Around?

Today’s Comcastic headlines:

• “The Blacklist” has become a centerpiece of Mr. Greenblatt’s hard-fought turnaround of NBC, and keeping the show on the air as long as possible is a top priority. Alongside “The Voice” and Sunday Night Football, “The Blacklist” has helped propel the network, owned by Comcast Corp., into the unusual position of leading the Big Four networks among the 18- to 49-year-olds that matter most to advertisers. But it takes more than one new hit to turn around a broadcast network, especially one that has been in the doldrums for most of a decade. While the smallest contributor to NBCUniversal profit, NBC is making progress financially. Although the recent ratings gains haven’t filtered through yet, NBCUniversal’s broadcast division posted operating cash flow of $345 million in 2013, compared with $118 million in 2010. (Wall Street Journal)

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