Watchdogs concerned about impact of Comcast-Time Warner deal

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Industry watchdogs are concerned that Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable will give the company too much power, and ultimately raise the price of high-speed connections.

But Comcast -- which was already the nation's number-one pay TV and Internet provider, says the purchase will provide faster, more reliable service to more customers, and save money on TV programming costs.

If the $45 billion deal is approved, Comcast will serve some 30 million pay TV customers and 32 million Internet subscribers.

Craig Aaron, who heads a public-interest group that focuses on the media industry, says cable companies are "the only game in town" in most places, when it comes to getting the fastest-available Internet connections. And he says he wouldn't anticipate prices going down as a result of this deal.

And Bert Foer of the American Antitrust Institute asks, "How much power over content do we want a single company to have?"

Comcast says it will continue to operate under conditions the government imposed when Comcast acquired NBCUniversal -- including a requirement that it provide standalone Internet service without tying it to a pay TV package. The company's CEO says those conditions will continue "for many years" -- but he won't speculate on just how many.

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254-a-14-(Craig Aaron, president, Free Press, in AP interview)-"download every day"-Craig Aaron, president of media watchdog group Free Press, says regulators shouldn't approve Comcast's plan to buy Time Warner Cable. (13 Feb 2014)

<<CUT *254 (02/13/14)££ 00:14 "download every day"

257-a-15-(John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney for public-interest advocacy group Public Knowledge, in AP interview)-"Comcast is today"-John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney for public-interest advocacy group Public Knowledge, says the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal will likely need approval from both the FCC and the Justice Department. (13 Feb 2014)

<<CUT *257 (02/13/14)££ 00:15 "Comcast is today"

APPHOTO NY123: FILE - This Feb. 11, 2011 file photo shows the Comcast logo on one of the company's vehicles, in Pittsburgh. Comcast has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in stock, or $158.82 per share, in a deal that would combine the top two cable TV companies in the nation, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced formally. An announcement is set for Thursday morning, Feb. 13, 2014, the person said. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File) (15 Feb 2011)

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