Media Executives Take Aim at Comcast-Time Warner Merger
Comcast is facing pushback on its merger with Time Warner cable from execs at other media companies.
One of the top executives of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc has raised questions about Comcast’s potential dominance of the U.S. broadband Internet market if regulators allow its $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable to be completed.
Speaking at an investor conference on Tuesday, Chase Carey, Fox president and chief operating officer, said the “broadband issue” will be front and center when U.S. regulators review the tie-up that merges the No. 1 and No. 2 cable operators.
Asked about concerns over the merger, Carey said, “Probably the issue that will come out of it, and that will ultimately get focused on, is really the broadband issue. Is there choice in broadband? Are you really headed toward every home having simply one broadband provider, and what are the implications of that?”
TV network owners worry the merger could give Comcast too much control over TV-viewing data and the broadband market, industry executives say. Small cable operators, meanwhile, fear they could face higher costs as TV networks try to make up the difference from discounts that a larger Comcast would win. Companies with online-video offerings fret that Comcast could charge more aggressively for broadband use.
Already the top executives at satellite-TV providers DirecTVand Dish Network Corp. have come out strongly against the deal, announced in February, citing concerns about the power Comcast will have in the broadband market, where it would have nearly 40% of U.S. subscribers. And nervousness among a number of other companies is surfacing.
Jeff Bewkes, chief executive of HBO owner Time Warner Inc., said that while the merger won’t have much impact on the media company in the short run, “in the long run there are some questions on competition.” He said he expects the government to “make sure the appropriate conditions are in place.”