It seems that Comcast and Time Warner Cable have finally reached a merger deal. Well, not really a merger: Comcast will be acquiring Time Warner Cable for $45 billion in stock. Seems like a steal, doesn't it? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Think about it -- why wouldn't the United States want the two largest ISPs to merge? Remember that Comcast also owns NBC Universal, so it would own the largest cable and Internet footprint in the country, along with movie studios, broadcast channels, and cable channels. It seems like just the thing we need to inspire that all-powerful invisible hand of the free market. I can smell the competition emerging from this deal. Also, no harm can come from combining two of the most hated companies in the country, right?
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It's clear that we're watching clueless legislators, judges, and political appointees grant carte blanche to regional monopolies and nationwide oilgopolies, and Comcast seriously believes that the acquisition of Time Warner Cable will cause no problems with federal regulations on monopolies. Given some of the more abhorrent stances taken by the FCC and others, it might be right.
We're putting Ma Bell back together again, but this time Ma Bell will own a bunch of television channels and movie studios as well. One can only imagine how this will impact a country that is already enduring lackluster broadband speeds and buildouts. Further consolidation of the big ISPs and cable providers will only accelerate that trend -- downward. For reference, here's a list of companies Comcast will own if this merger succeeds.
This merger, along with the recent setback for Net neutrality, is a big deal. This may not be the whole enchilada, but it's a vast burrito of damage to the Internet, at least in the United States.
We're already watching the rest of the world recoil from the many attacks on the Internet coming from the U.S. government and U.S.-based corporations. Brazil is talking about walling off all traffic to and from the United States. The Europeans are pushing to reduce the U.S. influence over the Internet, and if the U.S. government approves this appalling deal, right on the heels of the NSA scandal and the blow to Net neutrality, it's hard to argue with them. We may have invented the Internet, but it sure seems like we're now hell-bent on destroying it.
One of the reasons cited by the D.C. court that struck down the FCC's already weak Net neutrality rules was that the market was competitive, and regulation was not necessary. Of course that's complete nonsense, but that was the court's reasoning.