Comcast plus Time Warner Cable: Together isn't better

By David ButlerConsumer Reports

Sometimes together is better. Think apple pie and ice cream, or peanut butter and jelly. But together isn’t better when it comes to the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Of course, that’s not stopping Comcast from playing up the slogan as part of its big-money ad campaign to persuade the federal government to approve the deal.

At Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, we have our own video that pokes a little fun at the Comcast ad campaign and tells why together isn't always better.

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There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of this merger. These are the same two cable and Internet companies that consistently score poorly in Consumer Reports' annual customer-satisfaction survey. Both companies earned low marks when it comes to value for the money and customer support in our latest rankings.

Combining these two poor-performing companies would create an industry giant that would dominate the marketplace. Comcast would control nearly 60 percent of the cable-TV market and almost half of all high-speed Internet in homes across the country.

How exactly would that make things better? With its increased market power and larger national presence, Comcast would have even less incentive to address consumers’ needs. There’s every reason to believe that things will go from bad to worse.

Over the last four years, Comcast has raised its basic cable rates in some markets by nearly 70 percent. A Comcast executive has even acknowledged that the company can’t promise that customer bills "are going to go down or even that they're going to increase less rapidly" if the merger is approved.

This latest mega merger is particularly troublesome because Comcast already owns NBC Universal, giving it control over a vast network of broadcast and cable stations. By owning a huge network of cable and broadband pipelines and significant video programming, Comcast would have unprecedented power over what you see, when you see it, and how much you pay.

That’s why it’s so critical for consumers to speak out against this bad deal. And now is the time to do it. The Federal Communications Commission must consider whether this merger is in the “public interest"; it's currently collecting comments from the public.

Are you sick of poor customer service? Tell the FCC. Do you believe your cable and Internet bills will go even higher with Comcast setting prices for much of the country? Tell the FCC. Do you think it’s dangerous to have our nation’s high-speed Internet service dominated by one corporation? Again, tell the FCC.

You can say as little or as much as you want. The important thing is to say something, because these comments will be counted, and the FCC commissioners need to know what you think. Let them know that, when it comes to Comcast and Time Warner Cable, together definitely isn’t better.

Go to and make your voice heard.

This feature is part of a regular series by Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. The nonprofit organization advocates for product safety, financial reform, safer food, health reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

Read other installments of our Policy & Action feature.

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