BUSINESS

Comcast Calls Off Time Warner Cable Merger

04/23/2015 03:12 pm ET | Updated Apr 24, 2015

Comcast has scrapped plans to merge with Time Warner Cable in a $45.2 billion deal that would have combined the country’s two largest cable and broadband providers, the companies said Friday.

The move comes two days after the Federal Communications Commission said it planned to oppose the deal, joining lawyers from the Justice Department who felt it would not help consumers. The FCC said it would issue a “hearing designation order” that would prolong the deal, making it more difficult and expensive for Comcast. On Friday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the merger posed "unacceptable risk to competition and innovation."

"Today, we move on," Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a statement on Friday. "Of course, we would have liked to bring out great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away."

In a separate statement, Time Warner Cable CEO Robert D. Marcus called his company a "one-of-a-kind asset."

But the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger faced vehement opposition from many who claimed such a deal would stifle competition by creating a monopolistic beast. As it is, Americans have limited options compared to other developed countries for buying cable or Internet. A combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have represented 54 percent of the entire U.S. broadband market.

"The companies' decision to abandon this deal is the best outcome for American consumers," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "This is a victory not only for the Department of Justice, but also for providers of content and streaming services who work to bring innovative products to consumers across America and around the world."

Two weeks ago, Holder authorized the Justice Department to sue to block the merger, a department official told HuffPost on Friday.

The dead merger marks a second failure for Comcast in just the past year. The Philadelphia-based behemoth suffered a loss when the FCC adopted open Internet rules that enshrine in law net neutrality -- the principle that broadband providers “cannot block, throttle, or create special ‘fast lanes’” for any Internet content. Comcast vehemently opposed the regulation.

Bloomberg News first reported the end of the deal on Thursday.

This story has been updated with statements from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and the FCC and the Department of Justice. Simon McCormack contributed reporting.

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