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‘Oversubscribed’: DOJ’s Review of Comcast Deal Preloaded with Industry Insiders

21st Century Wire says…

This should come as no surprise regarding the pending merger between the nation’s two largest cable companies, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

The $45 billion mega cable package was announced in February, and touted by Comcast’s chairman and chief executive officer as “pro-consumer, pro-competitive and strongly in the public interest.” We’ll reserve editorial comment on that proclamation for another day, though we do encourage you to have your shout below.

140213_time_warner_comcast_ap_328The New York Times reported yesterday that the US Justice Department’s top official can’t rule on the cable merger because of a conflict of interest. William

J. Baer, assistant attorney general and head of the antitrust division, represented NBC-Universal when it was taken over by Comcast in 2011.

The Obama administration restricts an appointee from weighing in on a decision involving a former client. The rules may not have applied to Mr. Baer had the Comcast deal with NBC-Universal closed a few years earlier.

Standing in for Mr. Baer as lead investigator will be Renata B. Hesse, principal deputy assistant attorney general, heralded as an enforcer of anti-trust law having worked previously on the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, and Oracle’s purchase of PeopleSoft. According to a recent speech Ms. Hesse delivered to Silicon Valley, her antitrust division “has repeatedly alleged that mergers involving high-technology companies likely would harm competition by reducing innovation.”

This certainly makes good sense, and these types of deals should be held to the highest standard of scrutiny by our public officials.

But we can’t ignore this fact: The planned merger between Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable will combine two of the lowest-ranked companies in terms of customer service. 

Clearly, there’s very little being ‘innovated’ right now at these companies in the minds of their customers. And for that reason the risk of ‘reducing innovation’ could be negligible in this case. Or, maybe this deal is just too good to pass up. So, what say you DOJ? Bring on the Comcast mega pipe?

Rounding out the anti-trust inquiry team is David I. Gelfand, deputy assistant attorney general, in charge litigation. Mr. Gelfand previously worked with Google on its 2010 acquisition of AdMob while in private practice.

(Anyone can see it – in the world of corporate lawyers, it’s an incestuous industry playground, with Washington minding the crèche…)

Read more at The New York Times

READ MORE NSA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire NSA Files


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