Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWX) are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials amid intense scrutiny of their proposed mega-merger and its impact on consumers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The U.S. Justice Department is weighing whether to block the $45 billion deal, which has the potential to remake the cable industry.
The parties haven’t met face-to-face to hash out possible concessions in the more than 14 months since the deal was announced.
Staffers at both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission remain concerned a combined company would wield too much power in the broadband Internet market and give it unfair competitive leverage against TV channel owners and new market entrants that offer video programming online, WSJ reported, citing people with knowledge of the review.
Combining the nation’s two largest cable and Internet providers would create a company with control over roughly 30% of the pay-TV market and 57% of the market for broadband service, now defined by the FCC as 25 megabits-per-second speeds and above. The companies have presented the deal as a straightforward cable merger that doesn’t reduce consumer choice since cable operators don’t overlap geographically, but the increased market share in broadband Internet has been under more intense scrutiny, WSJ added, quoting people familiar with the reviews.
Companies that are trying to merge routinely agree to concessions to win government approval. Comcast did that back in 2011 before it acquired NBCUniversal.