PHILADELPHIA – The two largest cable television providers in the United States, Comcast and Time Warner, today scrambled to finalize a deal worth $45 billion that will merge the two behemoth companies. Insiders say that Comcast had planned on waiting “a few more weeks” before acquiring Time Warner, but “had no choice but to get it done now” while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which could have killed the merger, is closed on a snow day.
Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts said that the deal would allow his company to “bring better products, faster Internet, more channels, On-Demand, TV Everywhere, in a national-local platform that’s really special.” But Roberts admitted that the merger will make Comcast by far the biggest cable company in the United States—a fact that government regulators, charged with preventing monopolies from dominating the market, might not like.
“Fact is, the FCC probably would have killed this thing, and we couldn’t let that happen,” Roberts explained. “Thankfully, mother nature helped us out by crapping snow and ice all over D.C., which really afforded us a great window of opportunity.”
Indeed, federal offices were closed in Washington D.C. today due to the harsh winter weather.
The deal—which is a “stock-for-stock transaction”—will give Comcast 8 million new subscribers and put the company in a position to “dominate the media industry,” according to the New York Times. Normally, it is the FCC’s job to ensure that mergers like this one do not create monopolies, and that the “public interest would be served by approving the transaction.” Even though the cable television industry is already seen as too uncompetitive in most areas, experts say that Comcast “played this one beautifully.”
“Sure, this will mean Comcast owns about a third of the US market, and dominate most major cities,” said Joan E. Solsman of CNET. “But everybody from the FCC is at home, cuddled up, watching movies and drinking hot chocolate. There’s no one around to stop it.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, reached at home, said that Comcast’s actions are “highly questionable,” but refused to make a lengthy statement. “I’m sorry, but my backyard is just perfect for sledding right now, and the whole neighborhood’s here,” Wheeler said. “Sorry, I gotta go.”