Dimming Hopes for Comcast Merger?

The New York Times joins the chorus. David Cohen is still optimistic.

The New York Times today jumps aboard the increasingly crowded “maybe that Comcast merger with Time Warner Cable won’t happen after all” bandwagon. You already know the reasoning — worries that Comcast would have too much size and sway over the high-speed Internet industry for any real competition to ever emerge.

But those dimming hopes don’t appear to be affecting the mood or hopes of top Comcast execs like Vice President David Cohen:

Mr. Cohen emphasized this point in an interview. “It is absolutely accurate that we have a very broad right to walk away from the transaction,” he said, without elaborating on what conditions could cause Comcast to walk away.

Yet he cautioned that there was no indication that regulators would ask for costly divestitures.

“There hasn’t been anything that we have heard at this point that has led us to believe that anybody is thinking about imposing overly burdensome conditions on this transaction,” Mr. Cohen said.

But if regulators did ask for some divestitures, Comcast is unlikely to simply abandon the deal. In Time Warner Cable, Comcast sees the opportunity to become a truly national provider of television, Internet and phone services, giving it unparalleled scale.

In other Comcastic news:

Court awards Sprint $27.6M in optical patent case against Comcast: A federal jury in Maryland has awarded Sprint (NYSE: S) $27.6 million in damages stemming from claims that Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) infringed on a number of the service provider’s optical networking patents. … “We are disappointed with today’s decision and believe the evidence shows Comcast does not infringe Sprint’s patents,” a Comcast spokesman said in an emailed statement to Multichannel News. “We do plan to pursue post-trial motions and want to thank the jury for their time and thoughtful consideration.” (Fierce Telecom)

Comcast’s NBC Turns to Holt as Williams’s Credibility Is Doubted: The face of “NBC Nightly News” will be Lester Holt while the network investigates whether anchorman Brian Williams’s reporting has been so flawed that it undermines viewers’ faith and, by extension, the future stream of advertisers’ dollars. … The program’s audience — 9.3 million viewers a night compared with 8.7 million for ABC’s “World News Tonight” and 7.3 million for the “CBS Evening News,” according to Nielsen data — means NBC is able to charge more for advertising. A 30-second spot on NBC goes for about $48,000, while ABC charges $37,000 and CBS $33,800, according to Nielsen. The shares of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, have dropped 1.9 percent this year and closed at $56.92 at the end of trading on Friday. (Bloomberg)