The mega merger that long seemed inevitable is now officially dead, as Comcast has confirmed it had withdrawn its $45.2 billion merger agreement with Time Warner Cable. “Today, we move on,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “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.”
The merger, which ran into opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, became entwined with debates far larger than merely cable television. As The New York Times reports, the question of net neutrality loomed large for the deal:
At the end of the day, the government’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Internet did not square with the prospect of a single company controlling as much as 40 percent of the public’s access to it. All the more so given the accelerating shift in viewing habits, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing streaming services like Netflix over traditional TV. In this sense, it didn’t really matter if Comcast and Time Warner’s cable markets overlapped. The real issue was broadband.