In comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission yesterday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute urged the FCC to unconditionally approve Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable (“TWC”). By promptly approving the deal, the Commission is likely to serve the public interest by advancing consumer welfare and facilitating robust competition in the dynamic and multi-sided markets for broadband Internet service, multichannel video distribution, and original television programming. Although we cannot say with certainty whether this merger, if consummated, will deliver all the benefits that both empirical evidence and economic theory suggest it can attain, the upside of the deal for consumers is far more promising than its downside is worrisome.
Ultimately, the Comcast-TWC merger represents just one transaction in a series of mergers and divestitures that ebbs and flows as the media and telecommunications markets evolve. If the deal is consummated, the combined company will continue to face fierce competition from broadband providers, MVPDs, programming vendors, and Internet-focused companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Google. How these rivalries will pan out is impossible to predict, but the virtuous cycle of investment and innovation is all but certain to continue—especially if left undisturbed by presumptuous agency interventions. The Commission should let this merger go forward by unconditionally approving the companies’ applications for consent to transfer various FCC licenses and other authorizations.