NEW YORK, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- After acquiring NBC Universal less than a year ago from General Electric, Comcast announced Thursday that it will purchase Time Warner Cable for more than $45 billion in stock.
If the deal goes down, it would combine the biggest and second-biggest cable television operators in the U.S. into one entity.
Comcast would be paying around $160 per share to make the acquisition, according to the New York Times.
The deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, could still fall apart as shareholders of either company could vote it down. And any deal would still require regulatory approval, though Comcast hopes that since they don't compete with Time Warner, the merger will go through.
Given that Comcast has about 22 million television customers and Time Warner Cable has about 11 million video subscribers, the potential cable giant would have about a third of the paid-television market. However Comcast is reportedly willing to divest three million Time Warner Cable customers, bringing the merged company's subscribers down to 30 million, in a bid to pacify antitrust regulators.
Craig Aaron, the president of the consumer advocacy group Free Press, seems to hope that is exactly what happens.
"This deal would give Comcast control of more than a third of the U.S. pay-TV market and more than half of the U.S. triple-play market for video, voice and Internet service. Comcast will have unprecedented market power over consumers and an unprecedented ability to exert its influence over any channels or businesses that want to reach Comcast's customers,” he said in a statement on the organization’s website.
"No one woke up this morning wishing their cable company was bigger or had more control over what they could watch or download. But that -- along with higher bills -- is the reality they'll face tomorrow unless the Department of Justice and the FCC do their jobs and block this merger. Stopping this kind of deal is exactly why we have antitrust laws. Americans already hate dealing with the cable guy -- and both these giant companies regularly rank among the worst of the worst in consumer surveys. But this deal would be the cable guy on steroids -- pumped up, unstoppable and grasping for your wallet."
[New York Times] [Free Press]