Consumer groups reacted angrily to the merger of cable giant Comcast and Time Warner Cable on Thursday, claiming the combination could “throttle” choice on the internet.
Comcast’s proposed $45.2bn takeover of TWC will create a media behemoth that will dominate broadband internet access across the US. Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, will also cement its position as the pre-eminent force in cable TV.
Jodie Griffin, senior staff attorney at consumer rights group Public Knowledge said: “This is a deal that needs to be blocked.” She said Comcast was likely to use the extra leverage to “drive up costs and reduce choices for consumers.”, and claimed the new company would be too powerful, becoming a “gatekeeper” capable of “throttling competition.”
Comcast, America’s largest cable company, took over NBC Universal in 2011 and was given a long list of conditions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Among them was a commitment to net neutrality – a ban on internet service providers from favouring affiliated content or blocking or slowing web content sent to homes and businesses. At present, Comcast is bound to abide by net neutrality rules until the end of 2017.