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Big Questions In Comcast’s Time Warner Takeover Bid

Giant Comcast moves to buy giant Time Warner Cable. Good for you? Or not? We’re on it.

In this combination of Associated Press photos, the a coaxial cable is displayed in front of the Comcast Corp. logo in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, July 30, 2008, and a Time Warner Cable truck is parked in New York on Feb. 2, 2009. Comcast Corp. announced Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, that it is buying Time Warner Cable Inc. for $45.2 billion in stock. The deal combines two of the nation's top pay TV and Internet service companies and makes Comcast, which also owns NBCUniversal, a dominant force in both creating and delivering entertainment to U.S. homes. (AP)

In this combination of Associated Press photos, the a coaxial cable is displayed in front of the Comcast Corp. logo in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, July 30, 2008, and a Time Warner Cable truck is parked in New York on Feb. 2, 2009. Comcast Corp. announced Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, that it is buying Time Warner Cable Inc. for $45.2 billion in stock. The deal combines two of the nation’s top pay TV and Internet service companies and makes Comcast, which also owns NBCUniversal, a dominant force in both creating and delivering entertainment to U.S. homes. (AP)

When the two biggest cable companies in the country get the urge to merge, everybody pays attention.  Cable is, for many, how we connect now.  To television, yes, but also through broadband connections to everything on the Internet.  Last week, giant Comcast announced a $45 billion deal to acquire giant Time Warner Cable.  There is protest all over that the deal would cost consumers, cut competition, concentrate power and slow innovation at the heart of the economy.  But Comcast argues just the opposite, and Comcast has clout.  This hour On Point:  should the federal government greenlight this mega-merger in cable?

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Shalini Ramachandran, pay TV and broadband industry reporter for The Wall Street Journal. (@ShaliniWSJ)

Porter Bibb, managing partner at the merchant bank Mediatech Capital Partners. Author of “Ted Turner: It Ain’t As Easy As It Looks.”

Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund. Editor of “Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age.” (@notaaroncraig)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: In Comcast-Time Warner Cable Deal, How Brian Roberts Bested Mentor John Malone — “Late Wednesday, Liberty executives were caught off guard to hear that Comcast had sealed a deal to buy TWC for $45.2 billion in stock, according to people involved in the talks. The deal will snatch TWC from Mr. Malone’s grasp and set Mr. Roberts up as the clear leader of an industry his mentor once dominated.”

Washington Post: Comcast, Time Warner could merge: What would happen to my service? — “It’s worth remembering that Comcast limits how much data its customers are able to stream from the Internet, while Time Warner offers unlimited Internet plans. It’s not clear what would happen to those plans, or Time Warner’s pricing structure, under the terms of the deal, but it’s possible that regulators might ask Comcast to keep that consumer-friendly unlimited option — consumer advocates are likely to bring it up in comments on the proposal.”

Chicago Tribune: Why Comcast-Time Warner deal makes sense — “In sum, the initial worries about a Comcast-Time Warner deal seem overblown. We doubt that consumers would be stuck paying more for cable and broadband service, as some critics fear. We also doubt that content providers such as ESPN or The Weather Channel (now in a standoff with satellite provider DirecTV) would lose bargaining power in their future negotiations with a combined cable behemoth.”

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