FCC Chair: End of Comcast-Time Warner Cable Deal "Is in the Best Interests of Consumers"

Associated Press

The deal would have "posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation," he says, as the WGA, Parents Television Council and others also comment on the development.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler on Friday commented on Comcast;s decision to abandon its $45 billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, lauding it as the best decision for American consumers.

Comcast's decision came on the heels of meetings this week with officials from the FCC and the Department of Justice.

"Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s decision to end Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers," Wheeler said. "The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and the video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests."

He added: "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, including to the ability of online video providers to reach and serve consumers."

Concluded Wheeler: "I am especially proud of our close working relationship throughout the review process with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. Our collaboration provided both agencies with a deeper understanding of the important issues of innovation and competition that the proposed transaction raised."

The Writers Guild of America, West on Friday also commented on the end of the deal. President Chris Keyser hsaid: "Since the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger was announced 14 months ago, the WGAW has maintained that it should not be approved because of the irreparable harm it would cause to competition, consumers and content creators. In recent weeks it became clear that regulators had similar concerns. We share with our allied organizations the satisfaction of knowing that this merger has been stopped and that both the public interest and writers’ interests have been protected."

The Writers Guild of America, East said it was "gratified that Comcast/NBCU has dropped its bid to merge with Time Warner Cable." It added: "The purpose of the merger was to give the merged company even greater leverage over content creators, including our members, and over consumers. Our members create shows and craft compelling stories, and their work is enhanced when there are multiple opportunities to obtain distribution, funding and direct access to audiences. Their work (and therefore the audience experience) is diminished by the increased power of content-and-distribution behemoths like the proposed Comcast/NBCU/TWC."

The Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, which includes media industry activist groups, the Parents Television Council, Dish Network, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and others, also reacted to the decision to terminate the proposed merger. "Today’s news that Comcast has ended its effort to create Mega Comcast through the acquisition of Time Warner Cable is a tremendous victory for consumers, competition and innovation," it said. "This outcome is the direct result of the efforts of hundreds of thousands of citizens, members of Congress, community leaders nationwide, as well as dozens of businesses and organizations who have advocated tirelessly in defense of a competitive media marketplace."

It added: "The FCC and DOJ are to be commended for conducting a fair, fact-based review process that has upheld the law and served the interests of the public."

The Parents Television Council also lauded the development in a separate statement. "Families and consumers have won this battle. If Comcast and TWC had merged, it would have created a giant with enormous control over nearly half of all TV sets in the country – and that union would have inevitably been anti-family and anti-consumer," said PTC president Tim Winter.

He added: "We are glad that the opposition to this merger was so strong and fierce. Families should have more options to mold their programming purchases to their own specific needs, and greater consumer choice would have died if the merger had been created."

Twitter: @georgszalai

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