Comcast Drops Time Warner Cable Bid


NEW YORK: Comcast Corporation is dropping its $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable following intense regulatory scrutiny of the proposed mega merger.

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said, "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away. Comcast NBCUniversal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts. I couldn’t be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what’s next."

The deal would have brought together the two largest cable companies in the U.S. Consumer advocacy groups, politicians and media regulators had concerns about the power the combined entity would wield, particularly in the provision of broadband services. The FCC said it had informed Comcast and Time Warner Cable of "serious concerns" that the merger's risks outweighed the benefits to consumers.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s decision to end Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers. The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests. Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice. The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation especially given the growing importance of high-speed broadband to online video and innovative new services."

John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, commented, "This is a huge victory for consumers. If Comcast had bought Time Warner Cable, it would have been able to stop new kinds of innovative video services dead in their tracks. Instead, the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice have decided to allow competition to work. New online video services shouldn’t have to ask Comcast for permission to reach viewers or access content. The efforts by the FCC and DoJ in reviewing this deal set a new high bar for the Obama administration in antitrust and public interest review. Had this deal gone through, Comcast would have become an industry giant with more than 50 percent of the nation’s broadband connections, dominant in most key media markets. It’s clear that the DoJ and the FCC agreed with the hundreds of thousands of members of the public, consumer groups, trade unions, and private companies that told them there was no way this deal should go forward."

There is speculation that Charter Communications will renew its efforts to take over Time Warner Cable.