In what would create the largest corporate "behemoth" in the history of the telecommunications industry, cable giants Comcast and Time-Warner on Thursday announced agreement of a $45 billion merger that critics say would be a disaster for consumers.
The deal, if approved by regulators, would see Time-Warner, currently the second-largest provider in the U.S., absorbed by its larger rival Comcast in an all-stock agreement. The merger would give Comcast nearly 30 million paying subscribers, roughly a third of the entire U.S. cable market.
Critics, like executive director of the media watchdog group Free Press Craig Aaron, say that though this deal might be good for the corporate titans involved, it will be a disaster for cable customers everywhere.
"In an already uncompetitive market with high prices that keep going up and up, a merger of the two biggest cable companies should be unthinkable. This deal would be a disaster for consumers and must be stopped," said Aaron in a statement.
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"Americans already hate dealing with the cable guy — and both these giant companies regularly rank among the worst of the worst in consumer surveys. But this deal would be the cable guy on steroids — pumped up, unstoppable and grasping for your wallet."
In order to gain approval, the companies will have to get their agreement past both the FCC and the Department of Justice regulators where concerns over monolopy control of the industry will likely be central to the debate.
According to Aaron, approval of the deal would give Comcast "unprecedented market power over consumers and an unprecedented ability to exert its influence over any channels or businesses that want to reach Comcast's customers."
"Unless the Department of Justice and the FCC do their jobs and block this merger," he said, customers can expect less choice, worse service, and higher bills.