Comcast has spent the past year extolling the benefits of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, but many in the tech industry and plenty of customers aren’t so certain that a merger is the right way to go. As we’ve seen time and time again, Comcast’s customer service is often atrocious and Time Warner Cable isn’t much better. Both companies have been slow to innovate when it comes to offering customers new services and faster Internet speeds and when they do, it’s only because newer competition — like Google — forced their hand.
It is now looking like the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is the latest to jump on the anti-Comcast bandwagon, and with good reason. According to a new Bloomberg report, attorneys for the DOJ’s antitrust division are almost certain to recommend blocking the merger. A DOJ report, which could set in motion a lawsuit against the merger, is said to come as early as next week.
If a lawsuit is brought forth, the DOJ has plenty of evidence that it has been gathering to bolster to its case. It has also been contacting outside parties within the past few weeks to obtain additional evidence should a lawsuit proceed. What’s even more damning is that the DOJ isn’t even offering Comcast any alternative options or regulatory concessions that it could make to allow the merger to go through — this would be a straight up rejection plain and simple.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (Source: Flickr)
Comcast and Time Warner Cable are both rather flabbergasted that the DOJ would even consider blocking the merger; after all, both companies see it as a win-win for consumers. “There is no basis for a lawsuit to block the transaction,” said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice before adding that the combined companies would “result in significant consumer benefits -- faster broadband speeds, access to a superior video experience, and more competition in business services resulting in billions of dollars of cost savings.”
Cost savings? It’s interesting that a Comcast rep would mention that, as any “cost savings” resulting from the merger likely wouldn’t be passed on to the consumer. As Comcast Executive VP David Cohen stated in February, "The impact on customer bills is always hard to quantify. We're certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or even increase less rapidly. Frankly, most of the factors that go into customer bills are factors beyond our control."
My, what a tangled web Comcast has weaved! As early as this past February, Comcast was optimistic that the merger would sail through regulatory hurdles and that the deal would be approved early this year.