The media elite took notice this morning when The New York Times editorial board opposed Comcast‘s $45B acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Calling it “A Cable Merger Too Far” the lead editorial says: “The merger will concentrate too much market power in the hands of one company, creating a telecommunications colossus the likes of which the country has not seen since 1984 when the government forced the breakup of the original AT&T telephone monopoly.” The board signaled its likely conclusion in February when it said that regulators should not accept the pro-deal argument “without conducting a thorough investigation into what effect a merger between the country’s two largest cable companies would have on the media and the Internet.”
The change in the editorial view stands out because, well, it’s The Times — and therefore assumed to wield influence over any public policy debate. It adds establishment heft to the anti-deal case as the Justice Department and FCC weigh the merits, and politics, of their decisions.
But the editorial also is notable because it breaks from the major newspaper pack. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Philadelphia Inquirer (Comcast’s home town paper) have supported the merger. “Consolidation is the only way to ensure these companies have enough capital to invest in new and better technology that will keep their customers happy — or, at least, satisfied enough not to cancel their subscriptions,” the Post said in April.