The Anschluss of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is not over yet. We can still stop this thing! Well, the Department of Justice can still stop this thing. Clap if you believe antitrust laws still exist...
Antitrust legislation has gotten less robust since the days of Teddy Roosevelt threatening to feed monopolists to the lions. Practically, the Department of Justice — which is the government agency in charge of enforcing federal antitrust legislation — is going to rubber stamp most consolidations of corporate power.
But sometimes, lawyers at the DOJ get frisky and smack down a merger, as if they're just trying to get name checked on CNBC. Remember, that happened recently when the DOJ filed suit to stop the proposed AT&T merger with T-Mobile. So there's still a chance the DOJ could stop TimeCast (or whatever we're going to call these people while waiting for service).
Why did the DOJ stop the telecoms but let the American Airlines/U.S. Air merger go through? That merger was so bad that the Republican Attorney General of Texas and the Democratic Attorney General of America were both against it. Well, eventually the airlines played ball with the DOJ and Washington, D.C. politicians. I'm not making that up: the airlines agreed to give up a little bit of their stranglehold on Reagan National Airport, which is where Congressmen fly out of to get home, to make sure competitive fares were still available. After that concession, the DOJ was like: "Cool, we don't really care if you jack up prices elsewhere in America."
That's the kind of window dressing WarnerCom CableCast hopes will grease the wheels at the DOJ for this merger. From DealBook:
In a bid to appease antitrust regulators, Comcast is expected say it is willing to divest three million of Time Warner Cable's roughly 11 million pay television subscribers.
It was not immediately clear if Comcast would propose certain markets to divest, but shedding those subscribers should keep Comcast with less than 30 percent national market share for pay television, a level the company believes will satisfy antitrust regulators.
For those playing along at home, that means there's a market that the DOJ can choose to make more competitive if they allow ComeWasteTimeOnCable to control cable for 30% of the nation. Lovely.
Will that be enough? Will the DOJ actually try to listen to consumers who hate their cable service and beg for more competition?
I don't know. I'm going to move to the suburbs and get Direct TV.