Aurich Lawson / New Line Cinema
Comcast’s $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC) is expected to be thoroughly scrutinized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and it could be blocked if the agencies decide the merger would significantly reduce competition and harm consumers.
Even if Comcast wins approval, the merger might require consumer protection provisions that would make it harder for Comcast to wield its increased size in ways that make the TV and Internet markets less competitive. Comcast said it expects regulatory review to take nine to 12 months.
For now, let’s take a look at what authority the DOJ and FCC might use to block or alter the proposed acquisition.
Telecom expert Harold Feld, senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, explained that the DOJ and FCC each have authority here, but the processes they use are quite different.”DOJ does this under antitrust,” Feld told Ars. “They have to sue in federal court to block the transaction, and they have the burden of proof under a traditional antitrust analysis.
They would have to show that there is a substantial likelihood that the transaction would reduce competition in some relevant market.” The DOJ would have to prove its case by a preponderance of evidence.