The odds-makers must be enjoying themselves today.
After initially declaring that its deal to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) would close by the end of 2014 or early 2015, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is now resetting expectations to suggest that the US government's regulatory review of the $45 billion transaction won't wrap up till around summer time.
In a fresh blog post, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said, "Given the FCC's recent decision to pause the shot clock, we have recently reassessed the time frame when we expect the government's regulatory review to be completed and now expect that the review should be concluded in the middle of the year."
If Cohen is right, the timing would match up with the American Cable Association (ACA) 's prediction. ACA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Ross Lieberman estimated earlier this month that a decision on the merger wouldn't be delivered until the summer. Lieberman cited the 230-day review of Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal LLC four years ago as evidence that the TWC transaction could take longer than expected. The ACA spokesperson did, however, make a bet that the government will ultimately approve the deal. (See DC Insiders Handicap Cable's Big Merger .)
One of the major reasons the merger timeline has been extended is because of the volume of documentation the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has requested. Currently, several of these records requests are being held up in court because programmers are concerned about sharing the details of their contract negotiations with Comcast and TWC. The FCC has stopped its own review shot clock until the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decides whether programmers have a right to withhold contract details from an extended merger review committee. (See FCC Stops Clock on Merger Madness.)
Meanwhile, Comcast is trying to stay on the FCC's good side by limiting its criticisms of the Commission's recent decision to regulate broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is expected to sue the FCC on behalf of cable operators, but Comcast has so far distanced itself from a direct fight with the Commission. (See Net Neutrality Suits: Only The Beginning?)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading