No tears at the Comcast-Time Warner-Charter mega-deal funeral

25 April 2015 by Steve Blum
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Whoops. Missed the ruby slippers again.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and U.S. attorney general Eric Holder both took a victory lap yesterday, proclaiming that the death of the Comcast-Time Warner-Charter deal was, respectively, “in the best interests” and the “best outcome” for U.S. consumers.

And so it is. And doubly so for California, where Comcast would have been left with control – monopoly or duopoly – of at least 86% of the broadband market.

Time Warner released a perfunctory statement saying, in effect, we’re not exactly chopped liver. Charter hasn’t said a word about it yet, which is one more indication that it’s likely to be the next suitor to knock on Time Warner’s door with a bouquet of flowers and a few billion dollars.

Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts spent about 12 minutes on CNBC (which Comcast owns) this morning saying nothing to see here, move along and get back to work. That was echoed in an email that was sent around to employees, according to DSL Reports.

The best write up I’ve seen of the deal’s final days is by Washington Post writers Cecilia Kang and Brian Fung. One tidbit: Roberts tried to save the deal via a personal phone call to Wheeler on Monday. The interesting thing wasn’t that the appeal was in vain, but that Wheeler took the call and discussed a proceeding that was about to turn very adversarial. That’s the kind of behavior that resulted in a criminal investigation, complete with search warrants, into conversations between former California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey and a PG&E executive. Comcast did file the required notice that the private conversation took place, though.

It was a rapid end to a 14 month saga that saw dozens – hundreds? – of advocates and activists battling over the merits and the dangers of the merger, and thousands – tens of thousands? – of hours of staff time devoted by regulatory agencies. Monday is soon enough to start picking up the pieces.

H/T to Fred Pilot at the Eldo Telecom blog for the pointers to the Comcast email and the latest in the Peevey/PG&E story.