Wall Street isn't fooled: the (paid) political winds are at Comcast's back

9 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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If you’re less cynical than me – not tough – then you might think the reaction of Wall Street cable TV analysts to the end of Sprint’s bid to buy T-Mobile is amazingly cynical. I call it a refreshingly honest assessment of the current coin-operated leadership at the FCC. According to a story by Daniel Frankel in FierceCable

The reported decision by Sprint to end its $32 billion quest to buy T-Mobile will provide a significant regulatory boost to Comcast in its $45 billion attempt to buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T in its $49 billion effort to buy DirecTV.

So say several prominent media investment analysts, who believe the influence exhibited by the Federal Communications Commission in ending a Sprint/T-Mobile deal before it even began gives the FCC cover to approve the pay-TV mega-deals.

Guggenheim Securities analyst Paul Gallant said in a note to investors that the scuttled wireless deal is a “mild plus” for the four engaged pay-TV operators, giving the FCC “some new political breathing room.”

Translation: the incessant, megabuck fundraising by Comcast’s top lobbyist in Washington, David Cohen, has paid off and the FCC’s lobbyist-in-chief, Tom Wheeler, is setting the table for a clean sweep of the Californian cable market by Comcast.

Wall Street analysts are not known for Romantic sentimentalism. There’s a reason they’re not crying OMG the FCC is in maximum trust-busting mode; the Comcast sweep of Time-Warner and Charter is doomed. They think the Beltway fix is in and Comcast will skate through federal anti-trust reviews en route to near monopoly control in California. But hey, don’t worry, they’re cynical.