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The New York Times needs to stop using the silo view to assess Comcast, Time Warner

The New York Times’ editorial board today opined on the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner.  In the piece, the editorial board argued that the combination could mean that in the future Comcast could keep competitors from accessing its NBC content and that there would be an inordinate amount of control over the consumer’s broadband access to content.  Here was my response:

“The Editorial Board is focusing on a lot of “what ifs” that if the feared scenarios were carried out by Comcast, the result would be a devaluing of their network and the content that they own. Comcast wants its NBC content shown on as many platforms as possible. The more eyeballs for its content means certainty in advertising and license fees generated by viewers.

Also, the Board is still stuck in the 1990s view of regulation. You can’t use the silo view of how to view Comcast or Time Warner. Google and Apple are developing a business model that connects consumers end-to-end to content. Google is also exploring providing broadband in a number of cities. A Comcast-Time Warner combination is merely good planning as the companies try to prepare themselves for a future where companies that have been erroneously described as tech companies are showing their through colors as media companies.

The notion of information portal is being taken to another level by all of these companies and it’s time for the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice to recognize this.”

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I don’t see the benefit of denying an AT&T, DirecTV merger

Posted May 1st, 2014 in AT&T, Broadband, DirecTV, spectrum, video and tagged , , , , , by Alton Drew

The Wall Street Journal today reported that AT&T and DirecTV are talking courtship.  This comes on the heels of a proposed marriage of Comcast and Time Warner.  I think the biggest difference between two mergers is that under the Comcast transaction you have  a formidable owner of content that also has distribution pipes seeking to combine with another significant provider of access.  AT&T and DirecTV don’t own any content to speak of and although, according to the article, they would rival a combined Comcast-Time Warner subscriber base with both companies providing broadband access to approximately 40 million plus subscribers, it’s still basically one video distributor getting together with a broadband company.

I don’t see how stopping the merger would improve broadband adoption.  Put another way, a merger would not prevent more people from signing up for broadband and I don’t see a combination as reducing the level of competition among broadband providers.  It should be seen by the FCC as the opposite of dampening competition.  Consumers will see two major brands combining forces to add choice in the broadband arena.

Maybe the companies can come up with some technological innovation that combines DirecTV’s satellite technology with AT&T’s fiber capability.  Dish Network chairman, Charlie Ergen, was quoted last year in Bloomberg Businessweek that a satellite company teaming with a wireless company would help meet consumer demand for seeing more video on wireless devices.  If the two combine, I would guess the next step will be a content play.  It would be the only way to truly keep up with a Comcast-Time Warner combination.

Besides, AT&T won’t hurt by having some of DirecTV’s spectrum.  No social policy violation here, FCC.  Go ahead and let it happen.