Cable company Charter Communications Inc.’s proposed $57 billion buyout of Time Warner Cable Inc. made big news last week. But the deal hasn’t sparked anywhere near the level of concern from public interest advocates that Comcast Corp.’s failed bid to buy Time Warner did.
Despite the size of the deal, it is expected to have a much better chance of making it through the regulatory process than Comcast’s bid. Why?
In a nutshell, regulators were concerned that a combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable would have had much greater control over the broadband market than a Charter deal. If Comcast were successful, it would have laid claim to 57 percent of all Internet connections nationwide compared to 30 percent with a Charter-Time Warner Cable combination.
Regulators feared that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, combined with Time Warner, the second-largest cable provider, would have pushed Internet traffic back to its cable network, thus protecting its lucrative cable customer base.
Because of changing technologies and consumers’ viewing habits, such as paying for online streaming videos and programs delivered over the Internet, broadband has become a more important player in the entertainment business.
In addition, Comcast’s ownership of NBC Universal raised worries that the new cable giant would favor its own programming over other networks. Charter doesn’t own a broadcast company or any programming interests.
Charter’s been busy. The company also wants to buy Bright House Networks LLC for $10 billion. If that deal goes through, a combined Charter-TWC, which would be called New Charter, would have 24 million customers compared to Comcast’s 27 million.