Comcast/TWC approval could have baggage
Fitch Ratings believes that the wedding of Comcast and TWC is “strategically sound” and the fact that the two cable company’s market footprints do not overlap is a regulatory advantage. But of course that comes with a however.
The $45.2B deal is currently under regulatory review, as is another gig merger, the $48.5B AT&T/DirecTV proposed merger.
Fitch believes that the FCC will be intent on making sure that “edge providers” – defined as “any individual or entity that provides any content, application, or service over the internet, and any individual or entity that provides a device used for accessing any content, applications, or service over the internet” – are not harmed as a result of the merger.
Vertical issues, in particular the power of the combined Comcast/NBCUniversal, are likely to be revisited, says Fitch.
Another issue that will come up is that of paid prioritization. Fitch said that the FCC is considering whether such deals should be prohibited in exchange for allowing the merger to go through.
The bottom line is that the FCC will seek to prevent any action by the merged entity that threatens to harm internet openness.