As rumored yesterday, Comcast today announced it's dropping its $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable after heavy regulatory pushback. A merger of the No. 1 and No. 2 US cable companies would have put nearly 30% of TV subscribers and about 55% of broadband subscribers under one roof, which would have given the resulting behemoth unprecedented power over what Americans watch and download. Competitors, consumer groups, and politicians had criticized the deal, saying it would lead to higher prices and less 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," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a written statement.
"We always structured this deal in a way that would enable us to walk away," Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in an interview this morning on CNBC. "We have to live with it, and respect that, and move on," he said of the government's opposition to the deal. One of the concerns consumer advocates and competitors had with the Comcast deal was that it could undermine the streaming video industry that's reshaping TV. Comcast could, for example, require onerous payments from new online-only video providers for connecting to its network. Dish, the satellite TV company behind the new Web video service Sling TV, and Netflix opposed the deal. With the deal off, many analysts expect that Charter Communications, which lost out on its bid for Time Warner to Comcast, will resurrect its effort.