Comcast to ditch $45.2B takeover of Time Warner Cable, report says

After meeting with regulators, Comcast looks to be giving up on its plan to acquire the cable giant, according to Bloomberg.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

No Time Warner Cable for you, Comcast? Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Comcast may be giving up on its $45.2 billion bid to buy fellow cable provider Time Warner Cable after meetings with regulators indicated they may oppose the deal, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The news service said that the announcement could come as early as Friday.

Regulators have been concerned that the joining of the two largest cable operators in the US, creating a pay television behemoth with approximately 30 million subscribers, would influence the distribution of video content and could hinder competition from Internet companies like Netflix that stream video over broadband networks.

Comcast declined to comment on the report.

The news comes a day after Comcast officials met with regulators at the Department of Justice to begin the process of discussing potential concessions in the deal. On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission staff also met with the commissioners to brief them on their recommendation for the merger.

The Justice Department and the FCC work closely in reviewing mergers in the communications sector. The DOJ looks at whether mergers violate antitrust laws or concerns, while the FCC considers whether mergers would be in the public interest.

Rumors have circulated in the last few weeks that the Justice Department staff had concerns about the deal and were considering suing Comcast to stop the merger. And on Wednesday, FCC staff expressed their own concerns about the deal and suggested commissioners consider sending it for a review by an administrative law judge, a source familiar with the situation confirmed.

Such a recommendation by the FCC staff suggests that those reviewing the merger did not feel the deal would be in the public interest, even with conditions imposed by the agency, which would trigger the judge's review.

Even though Comcast and Time Warner Cable would still have an opportunity to argue why they believe the merger is in the public interest, it's likely they felt too much opposition to the deal. Still, the recommendation from the FCC staff is not an official decision by the commission. Staffers analyze transactions, but it is ultimately up to the five FCC commissioners to vote on whether to approve a deal.

Comcast has argued previously that its deal with Time Warner Cable is in the public interest. And it has denied anything anticompetitive about the deal since Time Warner Cable and Comcast do not compete directly for broadband or television customers in any markets.