Comcast-Time Warner merger meets opposition from Justice Department

By Johnny McCabe


More than a year has passed since Comcast announced its now infamous plan to merge with fellow telecom giant Time Warner Cable, and the company can’t seem to catch a break.

The deal, which has served as a focus for discussions about net neutrality and corporate oversight in the United States, has been under extensive review by the Justice Department as well as the Federal Communications Commission for the past year. However, anonymous sources within the Justice Department told Bloomberg that the department’s antitrust division is leaning toward recommending blocking the $45.2 billion merger.

As widespread support for free and open Internet mounts amidst shifts in the government toward consumer-friendly policy, Comcast’s chance of attaining monopolistic dominance over the American telecommunications industry is looking slimmer than ever.

The Justice Department’s opposition would not be the first line of defense Comcast would have to overcome – The FCC made headlines earlier this February when Chairman Tom Wheeler came out strongly in favor of regulating Internet services as public utilities under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

This decision struck a major blow to providers like Comcast, who have collectively been toying with bandwidth throttling, streaming fast lanes, and blocking content from competitors. While the FCC has yet to announce its opinion on the merger itself, its strong pro- regulatory stance does not bode well for Comcast.

That’s not to say Comcast has been thwarted for lack of trying. One of the main strategies the corporation has used to deter claims the merger would reduce competition in the telecom industry is its proposed offloading of almost 4 million customers to Connecticut-based Charter Communications, in an effort to keep it at a 30 percent market share of the entire industry and under federal anti-trust limits. It has also publicly opposed the FCC’s Title II classification, and is beginning to take legal action.

However, if the Department of Justice’s antitrust recommendation were to go through, Comcast could potentially be put on the defensive, facing a lawsuit over an attempt to harm consumers.

The official line from Comcast, of course, is one of unwavering confidence, as they continue to advertise that perilous government regulation will prevent them from supplying high speed Internet and “premium content” – whatever that actually means – to the masses.

As opposition continues to mount and time inches ever forward, the cracks in Comcast’s anti-utopian vision have only become more visible. Comcast’s laughable service, tone-deaf propaganda and downright tyrannical agenda have made a lot of vocal people very angry – and now, faced with the proposition of stepping up against both the Department of Justice and the FCC, Comcast just isn’t up to the task.

Johnny McCabe is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]