Comcast has to clean up its act if it wants to merge in California

19 February 2015 by Steve Blum
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How about starting with some botox and a manicure?

If Comcast wants approval for its mega merger and market swap with Time-Warner and Charter, it’s going to have to meet some stiff, if mostly temporary, conditions. That’s the preliminary determination of a California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge in his review of the deal.

The proposed decision – there’s still some back and forth to come, and final approval is subject to a vote by the five commissioners – reaffirms that the CPUC has authority under federal law to assess the impact of the merger on broadband, as well as telephone, service in California.… More

On the whole, it's broadband market failure

What’s a snowball’s chance in Washington?

Telecoms mega-deals (or have we upgraded to giga-deals?) are snowballing: four in four months. First Comcast and Time-Warner, then Comcast and Charter, AT&T and DirecTv and now Sprint and T-Mobile. Each new merger – of companies or markets – looks to the previous ones for justification. If Comcast is bulking up, AT&T needs to as well. A bigger AT&T, in turn, requires that Sprint and T-Mobile combine forces, or so they say.… More

Comcast occupies Crimea, I'm sorry, California

28 April 2014 by Steve Blum
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Comcast will be, by far, the dominant cable company in California, if the proposed acquisition of Time-Warner Cable and today’s announcement of a pie-slicing deal with Charter Communications come to pass.

In order to get the Time-Warner purchase past federal regulators, Comcast wants to trim back what would be its combined customer base to 30 million homes, which is about half the cable TV subscribers in the U.S. So this morning it announced a scheme to spin off some Time-Warner subscribers into a company effectively controlled by Charter Communications (which would become the second biggest cable operator in the U.S.),… More

Comcast cash and lobbyists grab southern California beachhead

14 April 2014 by Steve Blum
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Money to burn.

Comcast’s acquisition of Time-Warner continues forward, with little apparent notice of the focused but relatively small opposition it’s attracted. That’s thanks in large part to the army of lobbyists Comcast keeps on staff and on retainer to make its case at the local and state level. It’s now redeploying troops from its northern California stronghold to the south, where it would gain a controlling share of the market by adding the Time-Warner systems in the greater Los Angeles area.… More

Opposition to Comcast-Time Warner deal yet to spark a rally

7 April 2014 by Steve Blum
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Get ready for a juicy pitch.

The Comcast-Time Warner merger game officially opens on Wednesday when the U.S. senate’s judiciary committee holds a hearing for no immediate purpose except to talk about it. Judging by a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Bob Fernandez, the debate will quickly drop into the snooze zone of economic jargon

The hearing likely will be a forum for a word most people – cable customers or not – will find unfamiliar: monopsony.


Comcast captures control in California with Time-Warner deal

15 February 2014 by Steve Blum
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Time-Warner hands LA to Comcast. Click for larger (but no prettier) image.

Comcast’s tentative deal to buy Time-Warner’s cable systems will have a big impact on the politics of broadband in California, to the benefit of incumbents and the detriment of independent competitors.

Time-Warner is the dominant cable operator in the huge Los Angeles market, while Comcast controls the San Francisco Bay Area, along with Sacramento and Fresno. A buyout would give Comcast control of four of the five major media markets in the state – Cox has most of San Diego, and is a distant number two in the LA area.… More

Aereo making retransmission negotiations more entertaining

26 July 2013 by Steve Blum
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Oh, baby, you are so talented. And they are so dumb.

Time-Warner Cable is threatening to shoot its own business model as it wrestles with CBS over permission to carry local television stations in New York and other major markets. Thanks to a law passed by the U.S. congress in 1992 with massive amounts of campaign contributions cogent policy research from cable, satellite and, crucially, broadcasting lobbyists, cable systems have to get permission to carry a local TV station, which means agreeing to and paying a price.… More