Quiet down! Quiet down! Emperor Palpatine is now speaking!
In an exclusive interview with Comcast-NBC-owned CNBC, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts explained why you should not worry about his company taking over Time Warner and net neutrality being thrown out the window, and how Comcast aspires to be a national company.
Responding to a question about the proposed merger – but really a takeover – with Time Warner, Roberts explained that, duh, this doesn’t mean less competition in the cable-broadband market:
FIRST OF ALL, BOTH IN VIDEO AND IN BROADBAND WE DON’T COMPETE WITH TIME WARNER. WE HAVE TO START WITH THAT VERY FUNDAMENTAL POINT. THEY’RE IN NY. WE’RE IN PHILADELPHIA. THEY’RE IN L.A., WE’RE IN SAN FRANCISCO. YOU CAN’T BUY A COMCAST IN NEW YORK, CAN’T BUY A TIME WARNER IN PHILADELPHIA. SO THERE’S NO REDUCTION IN COMPETITION. IN BROADBAND OR IN TELEVISION. SECONDLY, YOU HAVE FEDERAL RULES AROUND THE BUSINESS IN BROADBAND AND WE’RE GOING THROUGH THE OPEN INTERNET QUESTION. WE SUPPORT AN OPEN INTERNET AND HAVING RULES THAT THE RIGHT KIND OF RULES THAT ARE LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE AND ALLOW FOR INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION BUT ALSO GIVE CONSUMERS GREAT CONFIDENCE THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO AND NEVER GOING TO BE SLOWED DOWN, NEVER GOING TO BE BLOCKED.
Allow me to translate that sans ALL CAPS: We don’t compete head-to-head with Time Warner in certain markets! So this has absolutely no impact on competition in the marketplace… until you consider the fact that the proposed merger would put us in every major US market – New York, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Miami, I can keep going – and, combined with us owning NBC Universal, which has an interest in roughly 40% (just an estimate) of the video content you consume, and net neutrality laws disappearing, give us unprecedented negotiating leverage with other content providers if they want their stuff to ever see the light of day in, you know, the biggest cities in America.
On net neutrality (just a small snippet)
WE SUPPORT AN OPEN INTERNET AND HAVING RULES THAT THE RIGHT KIND OF RULES THAT ARE LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE AND ALLOW FOR INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION BUT ALSO GIVE CONSUMERS GREAT CONFIDENCE THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO AND NEVER GOING TO BE SLOWED DOWN, NEVER GOING TO BE BLOCKED.
Translation: As long as the new rules that are put in place allow us to charge more for speedy broadband connections to the most popular content, then we won’t slow down or block those services. Otherwise, we will screw our customers until they can’t see anymore.
On being a small, regional company with a fighting spirit:
[THE TIME WARNER DEAL] WAS CAN WE GO FROM BEING A REGIONAL COMPANY WHICH IS WHAT COMCAST IS, MY DAD STARTED COMCAST 50 YEARS AGO, THERE WERE 30,000 COMMUNITIES, EACH COMMUNITY GOT A CABLE LICENSE. NO BUSINESS BEFORE OR SINCE HAS BEEN STARTED THAT WAY THE GEOGRAPHY TODAY IS THE CLOUD. YOU CLICK AMAZON GO ANYWHERE, GO TO GOOGLE GO ANYWHERE. YOU GO TO, YOU KNOW, FACEBOOK ALL OVER THE WORLD AND HERE WE’RE NOT IN NEW YORK AND NOT IN LOS ANGELES. WE TOOK A LOOK AT THIS SITUATION AND SAID, BECOMING MORE OF A NATIONAL COMPANY WAS A GREAT ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY WITH TIME WARNER FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER PUTTING THOSE MARKETS FOR SALE…
Translation: My Dad started this company out of his garage and
it has grown to include 30% of the cable market and one of if not the largest mass media companies in the world we just want to take it to the next level by doing business all across this great country. It’s the American dream. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am worth just over $1 billion and have to head to dinner on Martha’s Vineyard with the Obamas.
On a related note: Here’s our most recent Cord Snipped podcast, in which Dan and I discuss the latest on net neutrality, why you’ll eventually pay more to broadband providers regardless of whether you cut the cord or not, AT&T’s merger with DirecTV, the problem with the WWE Network, and Apple’s acquisition of Beats. Listen here.