Reprinted from wsws.org
Last week Comcast, the largest US cable television and broadband provider, announced that it would merge with Time Warner Cable, taking over the second-largest US cable company for $45 billion. The merger would create a vast monopoly that would control over one third of the cable television and broadband Internet markets in the United States.
The merger is yet another expression of the growing control of enormous corporations over ever-greater sections of media, communications, and economic life, and the effective abandonment of anti-trust regulation by the US government.
The company that would result from the proposed merger would have almost twice as many broadband Internet subscribers as its closest competitor, and would have some 32 million customers, according to figures by the Leichtman Research Group. Its two closest competitors, AT&T and Verizon, have 16 million and 9 million customers, respectively.
In 2009, a federal court struck down a law that prevented cable television companies from controlling more than 30 percent of the market. The two companies have a combined market share of 38 percent. The merger will give Comcast a dominant position in 19 out of 20 major metropolitan areas in the country.
The merger will also allow Comcast and its competitors to engage in further price gouging, under conditions in which service fees are already enormously inflated. Comcast collects nearly $160 per month from the average customer, with many paying far more. But even while charging exorbitant prices, Comcast and Time Warner have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings among cable companies, and the third and fourth lowest customer satisfaction ratings out of all US corporations.
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