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Comcast confident that Time Warner deal will be approved

Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said Tuesday that he expects the federal government to approve his company’s $45 billion bid to buy Time Warner Cable and that the deal will be complete by this summer. Comcast reported quarterly financial results on Tuesday.
Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said Tuesday that he expects the federal government to approve his company’s $45 billion bid to buy Time Warner Cable and that the deal will be complete by this summer. Comcast reported quarterly financial results on Tuesday. AP

Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said Tuesday that he expects the federal government to approve his company’s $45 billion bid to buy Time Warner Cable and that the deal will be complete by this summer.

“Our integration planning is on schedule as we continue to work toward regulatory approval,” Roberts told Wall Street analysts during a conference call to discuss earnings.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are reviewing the proposed transaction with Charlotte’s dominant cable provider. Consumer advocates and rival media companies have protested the proposal, fearing that a bulked-up Comcast would choke off competition in the growing online video market.

Competitors also fear that Comcast, which would become the nation’s dominant Internet and cable TV provider if the deal is completed, would unilaterally set programming prices for the entire industry.

Under the deal, Comcast would have about 29 million cable TV subscribers.

The Justice Department is investigating whether a bigger Comcast would threaten competition. Separately, the FCC is considering whether a merger of the nation’s two largest cable companies would serve the public interest.

The FCC is scheduled to decide by the end of March.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Comcast earned a profit of $1.93 billion, or 74 cents a share, compared with $1.91 billion, or 72 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding some items, earnings came in at 77 cents a share while Wall Street analysts had estimated 78 cents a share.

Revenue rose 4.8 percent to $17.7 billion.

Comcast signed up 6,000 new cable TV subscribers in the fourth quarter, although that was significantly less than the year-earlier quarter. The company added 375,000 high-speed Internet customers in the fourth quarter.

For the full year, Comcast added 1 million high-speed Internet service customers. However, it lost 194,000 video subscribers in 2014 as customers cut the cable cord or switched to another pay-TV provider.

The number is an improvement from 2013, when Comcast shed 267,000 video subscribers.

If current trends hold, high-speed Internet customers soon should surpass the number of cable TV subscribers served by Comcast.

Federal and state government reviews of the Time Warner Cable deal have focused on the Internet service market because more consumers are getting their entertainment from online sources.

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