Most consumers in the United States oppose the proposed merger of the country’s biggest cable TV and broadband Internet providers, according to a new survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The $45.2 billion deal, which would combine Comcast with Time Warner Cable, is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission.
Cable TV companies rank among the least trusted organizations that most Americans do business with, so it’s not surprising that the people are concerned. Seventy-four percent of the public says they believe that prices will rise if the merger goes through, and two-thirds say that Comcast will have less incentive to improve customer service. The study, which drew on a nationally representative pool of 1,573 individuals, was conducted on behalf of the Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.
“Most Americans don’t have time to follow complicated corporate mergers but this deal has definitely captured the public’s attention,” Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said. “Consumers are tired of rising monthly bills and lousy customer service for cable and Internet and have little faith that this mega merger will make things any better.” The new Comcast would control more than two-thirds of all cable television subscribers in the country, and nearly 40 percent of the high-speed Internet market.
Read our previous coverage of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. And if you're opposed to the merger, sign the Consumers Union petition.
Respondents said they were also worried that the deal will be a blow to net neutrality, the principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. With fewer, bigger gatekeepers in place, 81 percent of people surveyed were at least somewhat concerned that the combined company will play favorites with video content. Along with its role as a service provider, Comcast is a content creator and broadcaster through its controlling interest in NBC Universal.
Respondents to the survey said that the merger could encourage further consolidation in the telecommunications industry. In fact, 2014 has seen a wave of merger activity. AT&T has proposed a $49 billion combination with DirecTV, and Sprint has expressed its intention to join forces with T-Mobile to create a strong No. 3 carrier in the mobile market. But neither of those developments would yield a category-leading juggernaut like a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
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