Comcast officially ended its $45 billion bid to take over Time Warner Cable, CEO Brian Roberts announced Friday.
“Today, we move on,” Roberts said. “Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.
“Comcast NBCUniversal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts. I couldn’t be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what’s next.”
In an interview with CNBC, he said “we tried our best to make the case.”
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler called the dead deal a victory for consumers.
“Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s decision to end Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers,” he said. “The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests.”
Wheeler noted the emergence of online video: “Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice. The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation, including to the ability of online video providers to reach and serve consumers.”
He concluded by praising the FCC’s close working relationship with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice: “Our collaboration provided both agencies with a deeper understanding of the important issues of innovation and competition that the proposed transaction raised.”
CNN’s Evan Perez reported that that two weeks ago, now-former Attorney General Eric Holder gave the DOJ’s antitrust division the go-ahead to file suit to block the Comcast/TWC merger.
In the aftermath of the failed deal, Bloomberg reports that Time Warner Cable already has bidders: advisers for Charter Communications have reached out to TWC for acquisition talks.
“Charter’s goal is to buy Time Warner Cable quickly,” Bloomberg reported.
Many media experts see the failed Comcast/TWC bid as a major victory.
“It’s a victory to not have a media company that is that enormous,” Robert Thompson, Director of Media Studies at Syracuse University, told TheWrap about what he believes would have amounted to a media monopoly once Comcast and Time Warner fused together.
Veteran journalist Mark Feldstein agreed, telling TheWrap: “This merger would have given Comcast-Time Warner enormous control over a huge proportion of news, information, sports, movies — on both television and Internet. Concentration is always by definition anti-competitive.”
And the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, a fierce opposition group that’s been fighting the merger since it first grew legs, was predictably thrilled with the news.
“Today’s news that Comcast has ended its effort to create Mega Comcast through the acquisition of Time Warner Cable is a tremendous victory for consumers, competition and innovation,” the group said in a statement. “This outcome is the direct result of the efforts of hundreds of thousands of citizens, members of Congress, community leaders nationwide, as well as dozens of businesses and organizations who have advocated tirelessly in defense of a competitive media marketplace.”
The end of the potential merger marks the end of year-and-a-half attempt to create what would have been the biggest modern-day media company in the world.