Speaking at an investor conference on Tuesday, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) President and Chief Executive Chase Carey has raised questions about Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) potential dominance over the U.S. broadband internet market, according to a Reuters report.
The potential $45.2 billion merger between Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC) and Comcast has generated a lot of headlines in the past few weeks since it was first announced in a press release on February 13th. A combined Comcast and Time Warner would become the largest cable company in the U.S. with approximately 30 million subscribers; currently, Comcast’s largest competitor is AT&T with 21.9 million, according to Bloomberg.
Carey voiced concerns over what he termed the “broadband issue.” He asked, per Reuters, ”Is there a choice in broadband? Are you really headed toward [everyone] having simply one broadband provider, and what are the implications of that?”
He further said that, “We haven’t seen any filings yet and how does that get addressed? I assume there will be aspects of that are addressed.” He added that as TV service becomes more personalized, broadband infrastructure and whoever controls it will become even more critical. ”Potentially, you may have for most of the country, simply one wired broadband pipe and again that’s the piece that will get, at the end of the day, most focused on.”
Carey isn’t alone; DirecTV’s CEO Mike White also expressed his concerns Tuesday, and U.S. senator Al Harken, as well as officials at the Justice Department and the FCC have all voiced their concerns over what could come very close to a monopoly of the U.S. internet broadband market by Comcast.
If the bid to merge with Time Warner is approved, Comcast would be the internet provider for more than 40 percent of U.S. households, according to analysts’ estimates, per Reuters. According to White, the merger would mean that the broadband provider would have an “effective” monopoly inasmuch as two-thirds of the United States where it already has clear foothold.
After Comcast submits all the necessary documentation and filings to the regulators, the U.S. Justice Department and FCC will both take months to review the merger’s impact on competition, focusing in particular on both issues of antitrust and on the public interest.
Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable’s Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said he believes the government will play a role in boosting competition after the merger. “In the longer run, there are some questions on competition that any deal like this will look at, the government will look at and make sure the appropriate are in place to optimize competition,” Bewkes said, according to Reuters.