February 16th, 2014
The big news in cable and satellite television this week was the potential merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Comcast is the biggest cable provider in America, serving about 30 million customers, and Time Warner is a close second (relatively) at a bout 20 million (the third isn’t close enough to even compare).
It isn’t hard to see what this means: unless you’re a Comcast executive, odds are this is only going to hurt you, as monopolies are good for the consumer a whopping 0% of the time. Here’s a list of the players who will be hurt by the merger (everyone) and why the FCC and Congress will be lookingÂ veryÂ closely at the deal:
1. Paying Customers – It goes without saying that the deal means higher prices and less customer service from subscribers of either service. Each company already holds a relative monopoly in their area, and the deal only strengthens that control. Higher prices are seen in a whopping 86% of mergers, and most customers can expect the same very quickly.
2. TV LoversÂ – The deal will do nothing but harm the democratization of media we’ve been seeing in recent years. More channels, more outlets, more media producers have enhanced TV viewing for just about every American — but this merger hurts the trend. There’s a reason why shows like AMC’sÂ Walking Dead andÂ Breaking Bad couldn’t have happened in the 90s, there was simply too few networks with power, and that problem only gets worse when big companies get even bigger. More competition means more contracts and more small-time deals and artistic shows getting looked at. Nothing good comes from provider mergers from a content quality point of view.
3. American CitizensÂ – Congress and the FCC will sink their teeth into this deal before the approve it. Companies of this size are pros at evading taxes and regulation, and mergers are normally attempts to save even more money. Expect Capitol Hill to sniff this one out good, and even if they regulate it properly, Joe & Jane Taxpayer aren’t going to see many benefits.
4. Everyone! – There’s a reason why we ban monopolies in the United States (even though cable has had regional monopolies for years). It simply hurts competition and creativity.
The merger isn’t all bad. If anything, it might push subscribers to try other formats (like online, or Satellite TV like Dish Network) which increases competition and innovation. Expect to see a lot of customers leaving the Comcast giant in the coming months.
Emily Torres is an Entertainment and News Blogger for TV and Dish Network.
Categories: DISH & TV news