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Today, Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications announced an agreement to “explore potential opportunities for operational cooperation in… wireless businesses.” A major component of the deal includes an arrangement not to merge with or acquire another wireless company without the other party’s consent for one year. The announcement immediately follows Sinclair Broadcast Group’s announcement to acquire Tribune Media.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“This arrangement between the two largest cable operators is another demonstration of the cable business model: regional monopolies that collaborate with each other and stay out of each other’s markets. A deal like this simply formalizes what everyone already knows: that Charter and Comcast have no intention of ever competing with each other.
“It is hard to imagine this even being on the table if the Department of Justice and FCC maintain strong enforcement against cable monopolies’ efforts to use their transmission power to thwart the development of broadband video competition, including through wireless. Charter and Comcast appear to be testing the waters to see whether lax oversight will enable cable companies to maintain their regional dominance to prevent new technologies from eroding their video dominance and challenging their inflated prices.
“Although new wireless competition would benefit consumers, it cannot happen through anti-competitive deals.”