Comcast Today: Washington Post Cautiously Endorses Merger

Plus: Guess which cable company raises prices the most?

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)

Comcast basic cable prices up most: Time Warner Cable reduced the advertised price of TV service by 2.5 percent between 2009-13, according to Free Press, a group aimed at changing media and technology policy. Meanwhile, Comcast, which moved in April to buy TWC for $45 billion, raised its advertised basic TV rates by 68 percent over the same period, according to the Washington, DC, group, which is part of a campaign to torpedo the mega-deal. When Free Press compared the increase on a premium package, Comcast’s prices rose 21 percent, while TWC’s rose 17 percent. (New York Post)

Comcast lists top officers salaries: Comcast Corp. boosted the compensation for top executive Brian L. Roberts 8 percent in 2013, to $31.4 million, the company said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Comcast says 75 percent of Roberts’ 2013 compensation was tied to the company’s performance. The cable TV giant’s stock rose 41 percent in 2013, compared with 29 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The 2013 pay for top corporate officers was contained in Comcast’s definitive proxy statement, filed with the SEC Friday. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Comcast-TWC Merger Could Bring Broadband Data Caps To Pretty Much Everyone: Mobile data caps might be almost universal, but home broadband data caps are much less so. Some providers have them, but many don’t. At the moment, Time Warner Cable is in that “doesn’t” category — but Comcast keeps trying to expand theirs. If the FCC grants the corporate union of the two its blessing, a whopping 78% of Americans could find themselves living under the new normal of limited home broadband. Comcast’s current data cap — sorry, “data threshold” — is 300 GB. Consumers who exceedthat 300 GB data point automatically see a $10 charge on their bill for each extra 50 GB of data used. The plan is not yet nationwide, but the program has been expanding over the past few years and seems to be one Comcast wants to stick with. Of course, we don’t know what terms the FCC and Justice department might impose on Comcast in order to let their purchase of TWC go through. It is theoretically possible that regulators could require Comcast to ditch data caps as a condition of the sale. Possible… but unlikely at best. (Consumerist)

Netflix’s videos are streaming through Comcast’s Internet service at their highest speeds in 17 months, thanks to a recent deal that bought Netflix a more direct connection to Comcast’s network. The data released Monday by Netflix Inc. may become another flash point in a debate about whether the Federal Communications Commission should draw up new rules to ensure that all online content providers are treated the same by Internet service providers. (AP)