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US: Debate explodes after Comcast, Time Warner tie-up announcement

 |  February 13, 2014

Immediately following the announcement that Time Warner has chosen to be acquired by Comcast in a $45 billion deal, debate exploded over how the merger would affect consumers and whether authorities will actually clear the deal.

The merger sparked concern among consumer groups that the combination of the nation’s top-two cable companies will hike prices and create a near monopoly. But Comcast head Brian Roberts defended the deal Thursday as “pro-competitive,” “pro-consumer” and “in the public’s interest.”

The executive reportedly cited companies like Netflix and Google Fiber – a service projected to hold just 2 percent of the market – as competition that will continue to test the newly-combined company as consumers edge away from their television sets and look to their computers for television streaming.

But according to some, there are significant hurdles to authorities clearing the deal as the companies will be forced to ensure that no more than 30 percent of the market is controlled, a policy under antitrust law.

Public Knowledge Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer said that should the merger go through, “it would yield unprecedented gatekeeper power in several important markets,” leading Comcast to become “the bully in the schoolyard.”

The US Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are expected to scrutinize the merger plans.

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