Users must be protected

The two largest internet and cable TV providers have the lowest levels of customer satisfaction. It is essential to ensure that the acquisition of Time Warner by Comcast does not jeopardize service to consumers.

Comcast’s decision to buy its largest rival for $45 billion is an injection of energy into the industry and is being promoted as pro-consumer. It is also argued that in some cities, these companies do not compete against each other, because there is only one option.

Perhaps precisely because of that lack of competition, the service of both companies has such a poor reputation. Time Warner subscribers in Los Angeles experienced this first hand when a cable company decided toleave a channel—CBS—out of its service because it didwant to charge a higher price.

The fear is that this case could be repeated on a larger scale, especially when the cable company wants to put pressure on channels with its 30 million subscribers, representing one third of the entire market.

It can also decide that a channel or programming competes with content produced by Comcast and block the competition. The same could occur with internet access if net neutrality is not guaranteed, by providing the same access to any site the user wants to visit.

There is a long list of conditions established by the Department of Justice that must be met in this purchase to protect consumer interests. If the deal is approved, the federal authorities must ensure full compliance with both companies’ commitments.

In this era of technology, a monopoly is not only achieved by eliminating direct competition in a single market. The fact that a megacorporation controls the production and distribution of contentcan generate profit by controlling and limiting what is seen at homes on TV and on the internet. For this reason, this acquisition should be carefully analyzed to ensure that the gains for Comcast and Time Warner are not losses for the public.