Merger of giants scrutinized through size of cable bills

Feb. 15, 2014 at 10:55 AM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A proposed merger between two U.S. cable giants, Comcast and Time Warner, would not slow price increases, a Comcast executive said.

"We're certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or even that they're going to increase less rapidly," said David Cohen, an executive vice president at Comcast, the New York Times reported Saturday.

The companies' top executives have said the merger, which would combine the two largest cable companies in the country, is pro-competition because the companies do not overlap services in any ZIP code.

Harvard University law Professor Susan Crawford said a merger "further lowers the risk of Comcast having to face competition, because it raises the barriers to entry for a newcomer."

"The proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable could have a significant impact on competition in the video and broadband marketplace," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the House Judiciary Committee chairman.

Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said a Federal Communications Commission review must look into "whether the creation of an even larger video and broadband juggernaut results in greater choice and lower rates for consumers."

Inflation in cable service rates has far outpaced inflation in general. Consumers generally end up paying less per channel after a merger, but their bills escalate anyway, because companies repackage their bundled services and offer more expensive options, the newspaper said.

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