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Comcast Offers To Shed 3.9 Million Subscribers To Ease Cable Deal

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the how-about-now? dept.

Businesses 154

An anonymous reader writes "In a bid to win regulatory approval for its proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, Comcast has offered to sell 1.4 million pay TV subscribers to Charter Communications for $7.3 billion. From the article: 'Comcast also said it would divest another 2.5 million subscribers into a new publicly traded company, dubbed SpinCo for now, to be one-third owned by Charter and two-thirds owned by Comcast shareholders. The deal will make Charter — whose own bid for Time Warner Cable was thwarted by Comcast's higher offer — the second-biggest U.S. pay TV company with 5.7 million customers, overtaking Cox Communications Inc.'"

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fuck comcast (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46858817)

thank you, I have just poured hot grits down comcast's pants.

because corporations are people, my friends.

Re:fuck comcast (1, Offtopic)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 4 months ago | (#46859967)

If corporations were really people, we could send them to prison.

Corporate "personhood" is a laughable fiction, embraced only by our insane Supreme Court and business conservatives, Though, granted, it would be nice to think we could have lead Enron away in handcuffs the way we could have a real person.

Never going to work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46858827)

Until Comcast gets split into NBC and ISP again, no one will ever support them in expanding their business.

Re:Never going to work (5, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 4 months ago | (#46858959)

Until Comcast gets split into NBC and ISP again, no one will ever support them in expanding their business.

Sure they will...

For the right price.

Comcast users are the new currency (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46858839)

To think that I was wasting money on bitcoin ... when I should have been trading Comcast users ...

Re:Comcast users are the new currency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859809)

You, sir, owe me a new monitor. You can pay me in ComcastUser Coins.

Don't care (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46858845)

It isn't the subscriber base. It's the control of content creation.

Re:Don't care (2)

fortfive (1582005) | about 4 months ago | (#46858925)

Indeed. Also, content distribution at the levels above last-mile/individual subscriber.

On the other hand, it seems reasonable to accept that content distribution, and internet/TV service providing, are natural monopolies, and we may as well turn it over to a single company with tight consumer-interest regulation.

On the third hand, and way old-timers help me out here, it seems that telephone service under Ma Bell was somewhat expensive when compared with today's prices (even accounting for inflation). I suppose a better analysis would be to look at actual costs of providing equivalent service, and consumer price to cost ratios then and now.

But your essential point is accurate: it's really is not about competition for subscribers.

Re:Don't care (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 4 months ago | (#46858975)

> and we may as well turn it over to a single company with tight consumer-interest regulation.

BUHAHAHAHAHA

let me catch my breath.. Comcast regulated?!?1

HAHAHAHBu hahahaha

You're serious?

BuHAHAHA

Re:Don't care (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#46859377)

There's the UK approach: We have the 'company that runs the wires' and the 'company that moves the data.' The BT infrastructure division is obliged to allow any ISP to rent their telephone lines on equal terms*. The company running the last mile service doesn't care about content - they just connect the end users and the ISPs together.

I can't see it taking off in the US though. The political situation isn't favorable to that sort of regulation, and the lobbying influence too strong.

*Though there have been many problems with unofficial sweetheart deals for BT internet, as they are another division of the same company.

Re:Don't care (1, Flamebait)

Kohath (38547) | about 4 months ago | (#46860293)

The US approach: cozy up to the guys in charge of regulating you. Contribute to their campaigns and run a 24-hour propaganda network for their benefit (MSNBC). Then they'll allow you to do whatever you want.

Re:Don't care (1)

rockout (1039072) | about 4 months ago | (#46860415)

I like how you picked just one network (MSNBC) as an example of a "24-hour propaganda network run for their benefit". Gee, I wonder which way your political leanings flail. /sarcasm

MSNBC was politically left-wing long before Comcast even started talking about buying them, and in fact, before we even had a Democrat president. Both houses of Congress were controlled by the GOP then, and the executive branch. But nice try.

The fact is, these corporations shower money onto both sides. When people stop framing the problem as "left vs. right", and start framing it as "Corps+Pols vs. the Rest of Us", then maybe we'll see something happen. Until then, you're part of the problem.

Re:Don't care (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 4 months ago | (#46860609)

The fact is, these corporations shower money onto both sides. When people stop framing the problem as "left vs. right", and start framing it as "Corps+Pols vs. the Rest of Us", then maybe we'll see something happen. Until then, you're part of the problem.

I guess that make you the problem then. I didn't mention any political parties. I didn't mention left vs right at all. You did. My post is exactly "Corps+Pols vs. the Rest of Us". The partisan talk is all you.

Re:Don't care (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#46859895)

On the other hand, it seems reasonable to accept that content distribution, and internet/TV service providing, are natural monopolies, and we may as well turn it over to a single company with tight consumer-interest regulation.

In other words, turn them into a tightly-regulated Title II Common Carrier. Which is what ISPs should have been from the very beginning, but Congress gave them a pass.

The problem is precisely the issue that Common Carriers are forbidden to be in the content business. They are content carriers, not content creators or providers. And there are extremely good reasons for that separation.

So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#46858853)

Why do I get the feeling that the Rural locations are going to be part of this group. You know the group that may have miles of cable to maintain, for a less populated group of people. And giving up that group, to the competition prevents them from keeping their costs down, as they are covering more expensive areas to maintain. Thus making them seem less appealing. Causing people in that region to try to get a more affordable service in that area. Thus making Comcast look like the savior coming in to save the day!

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (2)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46858907)

and why would another company want to buy these customers?

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 4 months ago | (#46858941)

I love how people STILL assume that Comcast competes on a level playing field.

I am sure there is leverage there. I am sure they have something to hang over the heads of the smaller providers/ISPs.

Look for them to divest their rural Indiana holdings. They hate it here.

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46859229)

Look for them to divest their rural Indiana holdings. They hate it here.

Those holdings in bumfuck are potentially a point of entry into the market. People are moving back to bumfuck these days because they can't afford to live anywhere else :p

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46859277)

yeah, and then you spend all your money on 2 cars, gas and whatever else instead of rent or mortgage and property taxes

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#46859173)

The smaller companies, tend to pick up the less profitable areas, because the big guys get them all. Think of it as an Easter egg hunt. The more aggressive stronger boys will often get all the easy to find eggs, leaving the little smaller kids, trying to find the harder to find eggs...

However they usually end up with something so they are happy. The same thing with cable companies. If they can expand their range all the better. If they get lucky a particular area could start growing thus give them something more valuable. However more people who know their name the better.

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (2)

barlevg (2111272) | about 4 months ago | (#46859131)

Indeed, from TFA:

The divestments, mostly in the U.S. Midwest, would deliver about $19.5 billion in value to Comcast shareholders, the companies said.

So yeah, they're "divesting" flyover states.

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 4 months ago | (#46859197)

Like I said, they hate it here.

They have spent very little money keeping their systems up in Indiana. They constantly oversell their services with push salespeople who don't know their product. Their local offices spend their days on the phone with angry hicks.

In some ways I am fine with seeing the backside of Comcrap, but Charter has a pretty bad reputation itself.

Fiber is supposed to go into my town... and this just wears my patience thinner...

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (2)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 4 months ago | (#46860061)

Oh God, please let it be true. Deliver us from the Scourge of Comcast, and make haste unto thy busom of Charter.

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 4 months ago | (#46859153)

This also allows Comcast to absorb Time Warner while aligning their interests with Charter. It helps the continuing solidification of the industry into a cartel of a small number of businesses.

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859155)

It's just the wrong direction in which they offer to split themselves. They should be split between infrastructure and content, i.e. one company that runs the cables, another that brokers the TV deals, a third that runs the internet services, and possibly a fourth that sells their own content, possibly via one of the other content companies. The infrastructure company should also be required to offer their services to any other ISP at the same conditions.

Re:So lets sell off the unprofitable areas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46860389)

almost - but there's really no "competition" in the cable market in this area. Where I live, if you live on the east side of the road, you can be a Comcast customer, if you live on the west side of the road, you get to work with Charter. Nowhere (that I am aware of, within a 100+ mile radius, at least) do you get to choose between the two. In both areas, you have the option of going with AT&T, but that's basically a throttled mess that runs through Comcast or Charter, depending on which side of the line you are on. No overlap, no competition.

Comcast sets some free (2)

borcharc (56372) | about 4 months ago | (#46858865)

This is a good deal for those who are getting Charter or Spinco (will be managed by Charter) out of the deal. Charter has a fairly open peering policy https://www.charter.com/browse... [charter.com] .

Re:Comcast sets some free (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about 4 months ago | (#46859097)

I'm not a fan of Charters billing. Their bill has two items (cable, internet) so I have no idea what I pay for what, and when the bill creeps up there is no itemization to show why.

Good deal ? (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 4 months ago | (#46859177)

If you were sold to someone for over $5200, don't you think that they would be thinking about how to get paid back for that "investment"? Where do you think that money is going to end up coming from?. This is a bad deal for everyone who has cable, and indeed a bad deal for everyone who watches TV. It will only serve to drive up cable prices for everyone, and even serve as another incentive to further discriminate against the "free air" viewers.

Re:Good deal ? (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 4 months ago | (#46859615)

Actually, in a situation where a city authorizes a monopoly service, why aren't the people of that city consulted when that service is to change hands.

Maybe they are consulted by consulting with the city council or commissioners, but we all know that's just as good as no oversight at all.

You'd at least think there would be public hearing...

Re:Comcast sets some free (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 months ago | (#46859941)

I bet you voted for Kodos too.

offer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46858873)

translation screw 3.9 million customers with even crappier service....

Re:offer (2)

sensei moreh (868829) | about 4 months ago | (#46858899)

I would have modded you up, but just wanted to add that not only is it crappier service, it's more expensive

Straight from the Book of AT&T (2)

Jahoda (2715225) | about 4 months ago | (#46858887)

...wherein we find our hero offering to "sacrifice" with petty divestments to "competitors".... as if they'd ever face any true regulatory action - they spent a lot of money on those guys, after all.

Re:Straight from the Book of AT&T (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 4 months ago | (#46858949)

So if in two years cable and dsl rates go up because of this merger, blame the govt for reducing competition and promoting price gouging. This merger should not be approved.

Re:Straight from the Book of AT&T (1)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | about 4 months ago | (#46859307)

I figured they would just sell the customers to Time Warner :-)

Don't mind being sold (3, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | about 4 months ago | (#46858893)

I'm sure the people in question don't mind being sold to a different company.

Re:Don't mind being sold (2)

hAckz0r (989977) | about 4 months ago | (#46859271)

Better if it were every other neighbour. That way there would have to a second cable company's cable in the ground and some actual competition in the neighbourhood. Satellite doesn't count as competition if what you are after is voip or Internet access. When you are the only game in town it doesn't matter how many subscribers your local monopoly has. Selling and buying any number of subscribers doesn't make any difference to the locked-in consumer.

Re:Don't mind being sold (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 4 months ago | (#46860349)

As a former Charter customer, I have to say they are only slightly less evil and shitty as Comcast. There's a reason I went back to AT&T DSL. I have a very skinny pipe (officially 3 down and 1.5 up but closer to 0.75 down and 0.25 in reality) but the quality of service is decent and the Internet actually has close to the mythical 99% up time.

Whereas my friends who are still on Charter, since it can actually handle streaming, have their Internet service cut out regularly (about an hour or two once a week) and experience the QoS of a ham radio in an 18-wheeler.

Re:Don't mind being sold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46860455)

Can these guys hear what they're saying? They are seriously living inside a bubble. Please, nobody tell them. It's tragically incredible to watch.

then again, there are more "well, actually, Charter is {better than,about as evil as} so blahblahblah" comments than there are comments like yours. "Oh, yeah," says Cocmast, "this market's working fine. Pardon me while I SELL SOME CUSTOMERS. You were saying?" wtfingf.

Don't the subscribers get to choose? (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 4 months ago | (#46858895)

Not sure I understand how they can offer to "sell" customers. Wouldn't the customers be able to choose who they pay for their service/ Or is Comcast admitting that they totally control the market?

Re:Don't the subscribers get to choose? (1)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | about 4 months ago | (#46858953)

I'm sure that the TOS offers a way for this to happen outside of the customers' control. Even if not, they could just say, "Sorry, Mr. Comcast Customer, we're not longer servicing your address. If you would like to continue receiving cable service, please sign up with SpinCo."

No, even better (for them) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859845)

You have a 12-month contract commitment that's still in effect, which we've revised to now read "Charter Communications" wherever it used to say "Comcast"; the price is not $10 more per month, and we'll send you to collections if you don't sign up. You sold yourself when you entered in to a contract with us subhumans here at Comcast.

Re:Don't the subscribers get to choose? (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 4 months ago | (#46858969)

They are selling their infrastructure which passes by said customers. The customers can choose to subscribe, or not. They don't really have another option.

Re:Don't the subscribers get to choose? (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46859311)

usually one cable company is in a given market a lot of times due to expansion in the 90's some companies will have a town or part of a town where another company owns most of that general area

Re:Don't the subscribers get to choose? (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 4 months ago | (#46859381)

No they don't. The cable companies have a monopoly in each area. Comcast will simply sell off some minor operations in some locations to a new owner. That new owner will then focus of how to get back over $5200 per subscriber that just bought, as well as dealing with an infrastructure that Comcast knew they were getting rid of and might have stopped investing in. Guess where that money comes from.

The choice those subscribers have is to stay and pay, go "free-air" and have access to a lot less programming and even be treated like shit by the free-air networks if the try to watch anything on-line, or to go with Satellite, who will offer you a "deal" for the first year as long as you sign a two year contract and get gouged the second year and all further years that you stay with them.

In some areas you might find an alternate wired service, such as AT%T Uverse. But amazingly, even though customers are worth over $5200 each, there won't be much competition to get your business and no one offering you a fair deal. This is purely coincidence, as it would be illegal for these providers to have any back room deals to keep inflating prices.

Worth of a cable subscriber (3, Insightful)

WPIDalamar (122110) | about 4 months ago | (#46858909)

Does this mean a cable subscriber is worth ~ $5000 to a cable company?

Re:Worth of a cable subscriber (1)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | about 4 months ago | (#46858993)

Sounds plausible to me. Keep in mind that many of those customers - especially in rural areas - have no other option for high-speed Internet, so the buyer is also receiving a near-monopoly.

Re:Worth of a cable subscriber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859333)

Imagine this...

Two choices in a city. Comcast and perhaps Charter. I assume this exists in some places. Now, consider Charter divesting (am I using this word correctly?) their customers over to Comcast. Now, for current Comcast customers, don't you think it will be harder for them to say, "Well, hey, give me a good deal, because Charter offers it for $... here." ... "Oh wait, Charter isn't available here anymore?" No more leverage.

Re:Worth of a cable subscriber (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 4 months ago | (#46860183)

Imagine this... Two choices in a city. Comcast and perhaps Charter. I assume this exists in some places.

There is no economic incentive for this to happen. It costs a lot of money to build plant. Nobody is going to build plant where they can get only, on average, half the customers, and if they cut prices to lure the other company's customers they'll lose money.

Now, consider Charter divesting (am I using this word correctly?) their customers over to Comcast.

This is called "selling", and I've lived through it a couple of times. First with I forget their name, who sold to AT&T, who sold to Comcast. Same wires, same boxes, same local office. The only difference was the name on the check.

Now, for current Comcast customers, don't you think it will be harder for them to say, "Well, hey, give me a good deal, because Charter offers it for $... here." ... "Oh wait, Charter isn't available here anymore?" No more leverage.

You can always threaten to move to get lower cable prices. Since nobody tends to do that, the cable companies aren't quaking in their boots hoping you don't. Charter selling their system to Comcast changes nothing with respect to competition. You had one choice before, you have one choice after. Just like Comcast buying Time/Warner changes nothing about competition. TW served your area before, TWcast serves it after. It's not a case of "hmmm, do I pick ..." before.

Re:Worth of a cable subscriber (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 4 months ago | (#46859335)

That's about 3 years of billing on an average subscription. Given the nature of the business, that sounds about right. With a few exceptions, business tends not to look more than that into the future when it comes to financials.

Re:Worth of a cable subscriber (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 4 months ago | (#46859763)

$140/month is average? Are you sure you did the math right?

Re:Worth of a cable subscriber (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 4 months ago | (#46859777)

Oh, oops. I just realized you were probably refering to people who get TV, Phone and Internet on the same bill.

Re:Worth of a cable subscriber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859427)

Think of it as selling your loan to someone else. They'll take an amount slightly less than the expected return on the loan in order to get all that cash up front.

Subscriber Value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46858933)

Simple math 7.3B/1.4M = $5214 per subscriber. That is the value of a cable customer.

Assuming $100/month and 10 years. The gross income per customer is
100*12*10 = $12000

Rough value per customer is 1/2 that of a 10 year contract ($5k appox half of $12k). That is some pretty good profit margin and lots of banking on no alternate technology knocking them out. Of course as a non-cable customer I may be way off on the $100/month bill.

Re:Subscriber Value (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 months ago | (#46859039)

Sadly, you might be way off too low. I currently have Time Warner Cable TV and Internet. The only reason we've kept TV so far is that Time Warner gave us a good deal on the TV. We pay $85 a month with this "good deal." If we paid full price, we'd likely be paying $120 or more a month. Of course, at that point, we'd cut cable and save the money. As it stands, cable is hanging on by a thread.

Re:Subscriber Value (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 4 months ago | (#46859065)

Except there are associated costs. "Gross income" is a poor metric on subscriber value. Honestly, I think it is a terrible deal for Charter (though I pay Charter close to $200 per month as a customer).

Charter has to pay a multitude of companies for the programming they carry, on a per-subscriber basis. I'm sure they have a decent profit margin, but after infrastructure costs, access fees to programming, and other costs, how much profit is actually being made per month, per subscriber? I suspect it would take 20 or more years to see a profit on those subscribers at that cost.

Re:Subscriber Value (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46859149)

Of course as a non-cable customer I may be way off on the $100/month bill.

No. That's a good guess.

You* could try running those numbers through a present value calculator with assumptions about inflation and interest rates. That will give you an idea of how much Comcast expects to grow this $100 figure.

*I would, but I'm too lazy.

The Great Customer Swap (4, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 months ago | (#46858947)

Comcast is trying to spin this as being some kind of big "we won't be a monopoly thanks to this so don't regulate us" concession.

It's effectively carving up the markets between Comcast and Charter, though.

Comcast "gives" Charter 1.4 million subscribers. In addition, Comcast swaps 3 million subscribers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Alabama to Charter in exchange for 1.6 million subscribers in "New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, and some smaller areas contiguous to existing Comcast or Time Warner Cable systems." [Source [dslreports.com] ] Then, about 2.5 million customers will be served by a new company that is run 2/3 by Comcast and 1/3 by Charter.

Effectively, Comcast is "dropping" about 4.5 million customers but what they are really doing is carving up the market with Charter so that each won't need to compete with the other. They'll each stay in their own little geographic area and everyone is happy. (Where "everyone" means the cable companies, of course. Not the customers who will see higher and higher bills with little to no competition.)

Re:The Great Customer Swap (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 4 months ago | (#46859095)

what they are really doing is carving up the market with Charter so that each won't need to compete with the other. They'll each stay in their own little geographic area and everyone is happy. (Where "everyone" means the cable companies, of course. Not the customers who will see higher and higher bills with little to no competition.)

When was there ever competition? In the vast majority of service areas, cable (like telephone) is a monopoly with exclusive access to end-users granted by the local governmental authorities.

Years back, the locals kept the worst of the monopoly abuses under a lid by regulating the cable outfits. When cable started serving up networking, the FCC took over and essentially deregulated the business, which is why the old ISP business is dead -- it's telco or cable today, or do without.

Re:The Great Customer Swap (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#46859425)

And even without the government franchise grant, it'd still be a natural monopoly. Once the first company to market has laid the cable and signed everyone up, it'd be near-impossible for a second to win over enough customers to pay for their own build. Laying cable is hugely expensive.

Re:The Great Customer Swap (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 4 months ago | (#46860535)

The economics is the real reason there is a de-facto monopoly. It's isn't a de-jure monopoly because another company could enter a franchise agreement with the municipality involved, it's just ridiculous to go into an area you know you are going to lose money in.

An issue that might be a problem for any incoming cable company is not the local government franchise, but the licensing of the content (even ignoring who originates it.) Has that local television station signed an exclusive contract with the existing cable company? Back when "must carry" was the rule and common method of operation this wouldn't be a problem.

Re:The Great Customer Swap (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about 4 months ago | (#46859129)

...and get 7 billion out of Charter for their troubles.

you FAIL it!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46858995)

taken over 3y BSDI erosion of user

They're only shedding the 1.4 million subscribers (1)

techvet (918701) | about 4 months ago | (#46858997)

They're only shedding 1.4 million subscribers. The others are being spun off to a corporation which they will control and they're probably buy out Charter in 5-10 years. This is a low-ball offer. I would bet more is to come.

Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859011)

Let's just put some lipstick on the pig, shall we..? So they try to look better to help their efforts to swallow another large competitor. We already don't have many (if any) other options in many areas. Pretty soon, we'll end up with one huge monopoly and all be screwed over by corporate morons who want nothing but more money for themselves. I can't necessarily blame these companies, but I can certainly blame governments for allowing this type of thing to happen. It's either that, or we just stop watching TV altogether. But we all know that will never happen.

Can they do that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859015)

I mean, really?
If I saw my bill suddenly change from Comcast to Charter out of the blue, I'd call and most likely be pissed, because I didn't subscribe to Charter, but to Comcast. Not to mention, it wouldn't surprised me if the price I had to pay suddenly changed as well. So out of those million subscribers, how many will unsubscribe after this?
At that point, they are basically treating the people who pay them, like potato sacks.

Re:Can they do that? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46859077)

Yes, they can.

As a part of a 'market', companies can buy, sell and trade you. You thought Lincoln put an end to that?

"You will do as you are told. Until the rights to you are sold." - F Zappa

Comcast sells customers to buy regulators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859043)

How can they "sell" customers? If they're offering the same MONOPOLY service THEY SHOULD BE CHARGING THE SAME PRICES.

What in the fuck are the regulators even REGULATING?

Re:Comcast sells customers to buy regulators? (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 4 months ago | (#46859261)

What in the fuck are the regulators even REGULATING?

The new theory on regulation (since approximately the 80s) is that it's bad, and thanks in large part to an economist and a Federal judge (both named Posner) the new theory is that there is no such thing as monopoly abuse -- so there's no need to regulate monopolies, because a monopoly that abuses its position will always have a competitor spring up and underprice them.

Come to me Google Fiber! (1)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about 4 months ago | (#46859053)

Got the news earlier this year that the area I live in is on the short list for fiber next year.
Crapcast can bite me if it shows up.

Re:Come to me Google Fiber! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859101)

It also requires an NSA subscriber module :)

Re:Come to me Google Fiber! (1)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about 4 months ago | (#46859517)

And the Comcast doesn't? ;)

still owned 2/3 by comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859055)

its just a smokescreen its still owned by comcast in the end. My prediction is that a couple of months after the deal the company will be disolved into comcast.

The real question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859063)

Why are they wanting to purchase the company that badly? There is something that has make this deal so lucrative that they are willing to give away customers.

I get they will become huge, but I wonder if they are thinking that they can just absorb all these companies later.

Scratch that itch (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 4 months ago | (#46859083)

You scratch our back (send your lobbyist to fight for the merger) and we'll scratch yours (sell you areas you don't currently server.)

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859085)

Now stop whining hippies. Let the free market do its thing.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859113)

asshole. capturing the regulators isn't a free market.

you're just another slashdot corporate whore.

need to have better cableTV they can't even show (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#46859161)

need to have better cableTV they can't even show of there local RSN feeds in HD in big markers but u-verse and directv can.

on 4/25 Directv and U-verse had all 3 HD feeds of CSN chicago on but comcast cable only had 2 of them.

Comcast still dose not have the BIG TEN alts in HD, goal line HD, pac12 HD (out of market), Game 3-9 HD, Team 2-9 HD, nbc premier league extra time feeds as real channels, and more that other cable systems have (TWC does have them).

Right . . . (1)

jr88keys (2619203) | about 4 months ago | (#46859193)

Meet the new boss—same as the old boss.

They consider their customers to be inventory. (1)

Kremmy (793693) | about 4 months ago | (#46859243)

This attitude is only possible because of monopoly status. Remove their monopoly status and the market will self-correct.

So can we call it an oligopoly now? (5, Insightful)

water-and-sewer (612923) | about 4 months ago | (#46859255)

It's ridiculous one company can just 'sell' its customers. Customers should have the choice. This is ridiculous and unfair and shows any semblance of 'regulation' of the field is a joke. Regulation in name only.

How about if I just sell a couple of 'bought' Congressmen? Because they weren't doing much anyway, other than pissing me off.

Re:So can we call it an oligopoly now? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46860279)

This is the regulation. Competition is banned in the name of efficiency, and the customers get to pay both on their monthly bills and the taxes that go to large grants for services that are never rendered to the populace.

As a reminder for those of you who were never taught economic theory, this is fascism, government approved monopolies (the rest of the baggage attached to the term was some of the most violent distraction politics in recent history).

I'm all about free markets but... (4, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#46859313)

Really? So we are going to let a company (Comcast) placate the regulators by doing two things? First, by selling some of their customer base to a competitor and then spinning off another competitor. This should NOT happen.

Fist, anytime you have to sell off part of business in a merger to keep the regulators happy it should be a HUGE red flag. It means that you fully realize that your proposed merger is going to create a company that is too large. I hear shades of Microsoft trying to *GIVE* M$ Money to a competitor in order to buy Intuit in a deal that got rejected by regulators (if I recall correctly). Even if the competition is OK with the deal, any horse trading like this should pretty much be considered an admission that the resulting company is too big.

Second, can anybody imagine why you'd want to create some new company when doing a deal like this? Why do they want two separate companies? Usually it is expensive to split a company and unless the two businesses are TOTALLY different kinds of business it usually is more expensive to run two companies over one. So what are they going to gain? One reason they spin off similar companies is to restructure debt and position future liabilities. You take the bad parts of a company (that nobody wants to buy) and spin them off to rid yourself of debt and liabilities, which you dump into the spinoff. So if you see a segment of your business is dying, or the future liabilities are looming (like expensive Union pension plans and older employees) you unload them. Then the child company dies a slow and painful death trying to deal with the debt while the parent lives on.

Both of these actions tell me that Comcast knows that the merger will not be approved so they are grasping at straws in a vain attempt to placate regulators. This merger may still happen, but if it goes though it will be a bad deal for consumers and I'll bet that we find out that Comcast dropped some serious money behind the scenes in the form of bribes, campaign contributions, and lobbying to make it happen. Crony politics are in play and I guess Comcast didn't donate enough to campaign coffers in the last round, or they really need money badly this time around.

Deals like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859355)

make me take a dim view of capitalism -- not that I don't have this already. I just severely dislike the notion of being able to buy a position. Internet access is now a basic human right according to the UN, and with this I agree. The Internet should be like water or electricity, heavily subsidized.

Does it really matter? (1)

hymie! (95907) | about 4 months ago | (#46859543)

If I only have access to a single cable company, does it really matter if that company is Comcast, Time-Warner, Charter, or SpinCo?

Net neutrality and Comcast (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 4 months ago | (#46859545)

Comcast aired a radio commercial in DC Metro this morning saying that the Comcast-TWC merger would guarantee "net neutrality", higher speeds and more Internet for everyone. This tells me most people think that 1) Net neutrality is a good thing and 2) They have no idea what it really means.

Plus, there's a another front on the net neutrality battle - some companies are claiming that net neutrality allows freeloading - using capacity without paying for it. But what's the reality? That everyone pays for usage - my company's fleet of 10 cars pays the same roadway toll per car as another company with a fleet of 10 cars. BUT - the toll road operator has the right to let the other company's cars into the fast lane and shunt my company and the individual to the slow lane if they so desire.

Is that right or wrong? I have not been able to find a clear citation to answer that question. Citations, anyone?

Re:Net neutrality and Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46860205)

Perhaps the FTC can get them for truth in advertising.

If this agreement does make Comcast have only 30% of the television viewers (cable+satellite), then there is an argument that they have addressed the argument that they have monopoly leverage when dealing with content providers for cable content.

This statistic doesn't address their monopoly as an ISP, unless you think satellite is a competitive way to provide internet service.

Loss leader (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 4 months ago | (#46859693)

I'm sure that they are counting on their improved monopoly position post merger to allow them to make up any temporary loss of subscribers.
This is a loss leader intended to distract the regulators.

Too big? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46859859)

So they admit their Monopoly is too big right now so they are voluntarily shrinking so they can become bigger?

Are they also going to promise they won't become any larger after the merger?

Is this a joke?

Can this finally leverage competition? (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 4 months ago | (#46860091)

Do this in a way that you end up with a mix of Charter and Comcast customers in each market. True competition in cable never took place because once the cable was strung, no one else wanted to do it - and cable companies were not subject to the same wire-sharing that phone companies were. So every market currently has one carrier, and no company has any incentive to provide greater value. Our cable bill increases 5% every year and the number of channels is reduced every year. The only way to switch is to hire a moving truck. If these companies have enough money to buy each other, they have enough to string some cable.

Nothing but a shell game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46860113)

When Comcast buys Charter a few years from now they'll be getting back all of those "lost" subscribers.

Google Fiber or no deal (1)

Gim Tom (716904) | about 4 months ago | (#46860181)

I would only go for this if they spun me off to Google Fiber. Then I would jump at the chance.

Here's a crazy idea (1)

paiute (550198) | about 4 months ago | (#46860223)

How about instead of transferring customers like they were cattle, you let them have a freaking CHOICE?

Left hand to right hand transaction! (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 4 months ago | (#46860357)

There's too much common ownership between Comcast and Charter... this is really the managers of good customers selling some systems to the managers of not-so-profitable customers.

Me first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46860373)

Where do I apply?

I'd like to know... (1)

thegreatbob (693104) | about 4 months ago | (#46860395)

... where can I buy Comcast users?

Keep the customers (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46860621)

Spin off the content part of the business.

The best way to give these guys "the finger" is (1)

gabrieltss (64078) | about 4 months ago | (#46860701)

Just start dropping cable. I did 4 years ago and haven't gone back. I'm strictly "over the air" now I get 11+ channels in the new 'digital" airwaves, plus streaming video/tv series over the internet. WTF do I need cable for? If enough people DROP their cable subscriptions - they will get the hint real quick. The ONLY thing these guys understand is $$$$$$. If you have one area where they suddenly lose %50 or more of their subscribers dropping their service, they will eventually have to listen to US!.

This helps Charter, but does nothing for consumers (1)

Adam Harrison (3610917) | about 4 months ago | (#46860843)

In many areas, you only have one, maybe two choices for an ISP. This does nothing to help that. We need more competition, not more mergers.
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