A report that Verizon is thinking about acquiring Charter Communications, which recently acquired Time Warner Cable, has sent heads spinning.
The speculation surfaced Thursday in The Wall Street Journal, which quoted sources as saying Verizon's CEO had made overtures to Charter executives. Such a deal would create a massive media company that controls large swaths of broadband internet, cable TV, mobile voice, and data services.
The report comes on the heels of AT&T's announced intention to acquire Time Warner, a proposed tie-up that drew strong opposition from the likes of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. While industry analysts suggest media consolidation is going to continue, the idea is drawing heated opposition from some consumer groups.
Viewing the deal with alarm
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron views such a deal with alarm, noting that such a merger would combine Verizon’s 114 million wireless subscribers under the same roof as Charter’s 17 million pay-TV customers and 22 million broadband subscribers. He further noted that Charter is already the nation’s second-largest cable-television provider after absorbing Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks last year.
"This isn’t a trial balloon so much as a hallucination," Aaron said in a statement. "This unfathomable merger would consolidate unprecedented media power in one company, kill countless jobs and hike too-damn-high cable bills even higher."
Fewer options in the Big Apple
Aaron expressed amazement that such a merger could even be considered, since he said it would leave much of New York City with just one high-speed internet service provider.
“A deal like this might excite Wall Street bankers and industry lobbyists, but anyone else can see that it would be a disaster for competition, innovation and the public interest,” Aaron concluded.
Such a deal, it should be pointed out, is mere speculation at this point. However, industry analysts say the trend is unmistakable, and maybe unstoppable. They say companies providing wireless networks see the need to close ranks with those providing wired services, as well as with content providers.