back to article Disney and chums halt Comcast-TWC, AT&T-DirecTV weddings

US watchdog the FCC has hit the brakes while scrutinizing the proposed mergers of Comcast-Time Warner, and AT&T-DirecTV. On Wednesday, the comms industry monitor said [PDF] that its comment and review processes for the pair of mergers would be put on hold following pressure to publish the cable companies' contracts with TV …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Mergers and Net Neutrality

    Seems the FCC is dragging its collective feet on these two subjects. I realize they are complex in nature but the longer this drags on, the more people might get interested. But I think they're hoping the furor dies down and any decision will get buried (pardon the non-internet reference) back on page 37 of the daily rag.

    As for the networks, I can see where they're up a creek on this one. Merge the giants and the networks will probably have to take less money per customer while the giants will most likely charge the customer's more.

    As for the Net Neutrality... same situation. The FCC will make the unpopular decision but the news will probably be overlooked the longer they drag it on. And again, the giants make more dosh if they win.

    I don't believe for a minute that the FCC will the do the right thing for the people but will do the right thing for the companies who will be the governing members new employers in due time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mergers and Net Neutrality

      FCC drags everything until it's dead, there is no money in the dead. Also, when you mention "for the people", you do mean "for the consumers" right? I salute you for still hoping we're still "people". God bless the United States of Business (USB? Could we all be someone else's printer!).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mergers and Net Neutrality

      "As for the networks, I can see where they're up a creek on this one."

      How so. Disney has many networks as they own ABC. They also require that *all* of their channels are carried, that they (Disney are paid for them) and that they are on the base subscription for maximized viewer numbers. It seems that the networks are just as powerful. So, all viewers pay to receive channels they may not want. ESPN is included but I heard a few years ago that they were getting $1 or more per subscriber. I never watch ESPN but yet I'm paying $1 a month (or more) for it thanks to Disney.

      I want a la carte programming, but the networks don't want that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mergers and Net Neutrality

        $1 a month for ESPN? At least a year since I did any reading on the subject but at the time ESPN was the single biggest cost of any basic cable package and was $6-8 per subscriber.

        I'm against the mergers on principal as the end result will be to screw the consumer but the networks complaining about not being able to fairly negotiate carriage fees are a case of pot calling the kettle black. People don't want the stupid expensive bundles they are forced to take the sooner À la carte packages are available the better. It's for this reason the networks are so scared their contracts are going to be available for all to read, can't have people finding out how screwed over they are. This would seriously hurt the likes of Disney and ESPN so is likely to take a change in the law to come about.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I think this is too big to die down. I think the FCC wants to stop the merger for various reasons of its own, but doesn't really have a good reason that'll survive Congressional politics, so it's smart enough to do things like this. They're putting enough pressure on the right nerves that they might have Comcast back off and change its mind.

    Just a gut feeling. Wheeler knows where the bodies are buried, and he may be sending a signal that he'll dig 'em up if necessary. He's going "ok, just how much of a good deal do you have from the studios that you don't want the networks to know about?"

  3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    The real reason for the delay is probably simpler

    Most likely simple stalling until this election cycle is past. Then they will do whatever their lobbyists tell them to without fear of reprisal from an angry electorate*.

    * yes, I know, the FCC isn't directly affected by The People©®™ or their voting results, but politicians are and those politicians lean on bureaucrats like those at the FCC - some of whom are beholden to those same politicians for continued public-sector employment...

  4. OmgTheyLetMePostInTheUK

    What are they hiding? These contracts cannot be all that secret!!

    Now I want to know what kind of back alley deals have been agreed to by the big content providers and the cable and satellite companies. There has to be something in those contracts that would be shocking if other people found out. And before any of these damned mergers are approved, I think its high time we aired out the dirty laundry in plain view for all to see.

    If there is dirty laundry there to be found, then the FCC should be able to see that too before deciding on these mergers.

    I very strongly feel like we should be breaking up these cable and satellite companies into much smaller versions of themselves, and forcing them to start competing with each other and all of the other cable companies out there. Cities and towns that have cozy little exclusive agreements with a single cable company now should be required to open up competition to any and all companies that wish to come into that city or town, and that these cable companies be banned from forming partnerships or merging with other cable and/or satellite companies for about 35 years. That should be plenty of time for a nice, healthy, competitive bunch of companies to grow up.

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