Comcast Will Meet Feds to Save Merger
We told you Friday that regulators are lining up against Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable — now news has emerged that Comcast won’t go down without a fight.
Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials to discuss potential remedies in hopes of keeping their $45.2 billion merger on track, according to people familiar with the matter.
The parties haven’t met face-to-face to hash out possible concessions in the more than 14 months since the deal was announced.
If the deal is blocked or falls apart because the companies cannot agree concessions demanded by regulators, it would also have repercussions across the cable industry. Charter’s acquisition of Comcast customers would be in doubt, as would Charter’s recently announced $10.4bn agreement to buy Bright House Networks.
Consumer groups, some lawmakers and content providers such as Netflix have come out strongly against the deal, arguing that the companies could raise prices for customers and charge content providers more to reach audiences.
Wednesday’s meeting with the Justice Department may focus on Comcast’s involvement with the streaming video service Hulu, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public.
The Justice Department has been reviewing whether Comcast was too actively involved when co-investors 21st Century Fox Inc. and Walt Disney Co. tried to sell Hulu in 2013, said the people. Comcast agreed to be a passive investor in Hulu when it acquired a stake in the company via its purchase of NBCUniversal LLC.
The Justice Department took depositions in February from Comcast executives about the attempted sale of Hulu, the people said. Comcast maintains that it wasn’t involved and that Disney made the decision to hold onto Hulu, they said.
The merger, if approved, would give Comcast access to the New York and Los Angeles television markets.