The cable giant has said that, if it buys Time Warner Cable, it will jettison systems with 3M subs to bring its market share below 30% — once a federally mandated cap. But instead of selling the franchises to another cable company, Comcast is considering the possibility of spinning them off as a new publicly traded company, Bloomberg reports citing “people with knowledge of the matter.” If it did so, the new entity would be the No. 4 cable operator after Comcast (with TWC), Cox, and Charter. Regulators might like the idea, the story says, because it “would create a new competitor.” That would seem to fly in the face of Comcast’s claim that its $45.2B acquisition of TWC wouldn’t reduce competition because cable companies don’t compete with one another. The conventional wisdom holds that Comcast would unload systems in rural areas that tend to be more vulnerable to competition from satellite services, and that would be poor prospects for sales of ads and business services — two of cable’s fastest-growing initiatives. This morning Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, whose company is the No. 1 shareholder in Charter, said that execs are still interested in finding acquisition targets, possibly including ones that Comcast is ready to cut loose.
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