Comcast and Time Warner Cable's decision to end Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers. The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and the video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests.
Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice. The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation, including to the ability of online video providers to reach and serve consumers.
Eric Holder, in one of his last acts as attorney general, similarly heralded the decision while Wheeler cited the FCC's "close working relationship" with Justice's antitrust division during the deal's 14-month review. He said the "collaboration provided both agencies with a deeper understanding of the important issues of innovation and competition that the proposed transaction raised."
Wheeler, you may recall, is the former telecom lobbyist whose appointment to run the FCC was famously likened by HBO's John Oliver to hiring a wild dingo as a babysitter. Once again, Wheeler has disproved the comedian's line.
Back then - before Wheeler showed he was no dingo on the net neutrality issue - I suggested a bit wistfully that "maybe this time, the FCC will grow a little more spine."
Wheeler did even better. He showed his teeth, but on behalf of customers, not to protect the cable companies he once represented.
Twice now, Wheeler has impressively dodged the lure of the crony capitalism that often seems to infect Washington, statehouses and city halls - no matter which party runs them - when it comes to regulating big, powerful and well-connected companies like Comcast and Time Warner, though he's been helped by the fact that cable companies have thrown their weight around for years against content owners and Internet companies, some of them behemoths in their own right but all heavily reliant for their business on cable companies' networks. The crony-capitalism problem has been repeatedly illustrated in Comcast's relationship with its home town, though there are signs Mayor Nutter may be resisting it better than his predecessors.
Instead, Wheeler showed how aggressive, enforcement of antitrust laws and telecommunications laws can empower regulators to protect the public's interests. Let's hope Nutter and City Council follow his lead.