Can Cable Competition Possibly Get Worse? Yes
Proposed merger takes it from 'zero to two times zero,' writes Matthew Yglesias
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2014 4:45 PM CST
A Comcast truck in Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(Newser) – Comcast and Time Warner Cable say their proposed merger into one massive cable company will help consumers. The deal "does not reduce competition in any market or in any way," insists Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. Well so what, is a common refrain among analysts—competition is already so terrible that the assertion means little. A sampling:

  • Matthew Yglesias, Slate: "The merger proposed here will in effect turn two medium-size regional monopolists into a big sprawling monopolist. But in terms of consumer-facing competition, you're going from zero to two times zero."

  • Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times: This is about more than channel choices. "The more damaging consequence of the cable monopoly is in broadband Internet access, where the power of the cable firms' monopolies is magnified by the lack of practical alternatives to their Internet services." This deal would only make things worse.
  • Daniel Gross, Daily Beast: We're at "peak cable," he writes. Cable giants can't sign up new customers, so instead of innovating, they're taking this "lazy approach." Sure, customers of Comcast and TWC would get some new toys and options. But "the channel lineup won’t change much, reception won’t improve, and the price surely won’t be going down. The whole point of adding more bells and whistles—video-on-demand, DVR-like services—is to get existing customers to pay more."
  • Matthew C. Klein, Crain's Chicago Business: He argues that the deal might help consumers. Cable bills probably won't go down, but this merger would give the resulting company way more bargaining power with the networks, which in turn could keep future price hikes in check.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
wartengu
Feb 15, 2014 5:48 PM CST
I got rid of cable 10 years ago, what could these companies possibly have that I would want? Cable/TV is obsolete.
iq145
Feb 15, 2014 12:47 AM CST
Do these idiots know what happens to corporate monopolies? Better watch it...
Stephen Camm
Feb 14, 2014 2:02 PM CST
If you are paying for cable you are either lazy or have limited understanding of what that thing called a computer is assuming you have one. You can stream anything ever produced on film without commercials and at the time of your choice versus watching 20 minutes of commercials out of an hours worth of content (most of which is old old old). And does the computer have to be new? NO.....a ten year old computer will do this just fine with 1 GB of ram and either an Intel 2.2 htz cpu or AMD 2.8. These systems sell for less than $150.00 assuming you can't find one almost free. So what are you throwing away if you pay only $78 a month (the 2011 average without all the goodies)? $936 a year, a long vacation, or better food on your table (think fruits and vegetables). And for the price of $10 to $25 dollars additional you can connect your computer (or tablet or smart phone) to that over sized TV screen (you already have). What does it take in terms of time...watching a youtube video....just start with "how do I..." and a half hour of your personal time (if you read first). Isn't it time consumers woke up? And who needs to watch 17 commercials in the space of 7 minutes.....(with increased volume)...that time is called life. As an aside...the price of everything tracks the price of energy if you are wondering why everything goes up. You might want to ask your local senator or representative if that awareness has dawned on them.