<National Report>After spending several months and millions of dollars greasing DC regulators with an army of lobbyists, cable giant Comcast is poised to push through their $45 billion merger/ buyout deal with Time Warner Cable, a deal which would make them the largest television provider in the nation, delivering service to one out of every three homes in the United States. And according to leaked documents from inside Comcast, those aforementioned households might soon be paying more money for fewer services.
The documents, including emails, memos, and schedules, show conclusively that Comcast is planning on drastically increasing their prices nationally, while also axing several popular television networks from markets where satellite and internet competitors are beating them out. The move would mean bigger profits for Comcast, but fewer options for consumers.
In one batch of memos, Comcast’s market strategy analytics team calculated that in order for the company to keep their prices unchanged in the twenty biggest US television markets, they would need to increase prices in most of the hundreds of other markets around the nation. So while customers in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago aren’t going to see changes, customers in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and hundreds of other cities and towns might see their prices skyrocket by around 50% to 85% on average, and as much as 200% in some areas.
Meanwhile, a number of those television markets will be losing popular TV networks. HBO, with popular TV shows like Game of Thrones and Girls, will be getting the ax in as many as 97 American markets, including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami. The AMC network, home to The Walking Dead, will be dropped in 73 markets. And Comedy Central, with hit shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Tosh.0, will vanish from 65 to 68 markets nationally. Other impacted networks include Disney, MTV, Bravo, The History Channel, Nickelodeon, and BBC America.
Americans have been generally opposed to the deal, noting that Time Warner and Comcast have the lowest customer service ratings in the industry. Netflix and several TV networks have thrown their own voices, as well as lobbying power, behind opposing the merger as well. But most market analysts predict the merger will go through unhindered, despite the opposition.