In a headline that must rank as one of the understatements of the admittedly still-young century, CBS News’ “Moneywatch” points out the Comcast-Time Warner merger could be bad for customers:
For many consumers, cable is a virtual monopoly. Neighborhoods or even entire towns may have contracts with a specific provider, which means a lack of competitive pricing. The long-standing theory is that wiring and maintaining an area is expensive and the provider doesn’t want to do so only to have competitors ride off its work without having had to make any infrastructure investment.
In that sense, nothing will change. However, local cable contracts come up for renewal, which is when competition can come into play. The fewer big cable providers competing for that town’s business, the fewer potential bidders and the more likely prices will be higher. Collectively, consumers have less leverage.
No kidding. The even bigger elephant in the room, however, is – along with our charming recent rulings on net neutrality – that multi-tiered service, curated content and throttled speeds are now more of a likelihood than merely a possibility:
That could lead to — if not higher prices — a potential downgrade in service. Comcast has tested consumer data caps, which can reduce the ability of people to watch as much streamed entertainment over the Internet as they would like. According to The Consumerist, Netflix streaming speeds for Comcast have dropped sharply.
Exactly. “Welcome to MegaConglomCo. Hold, don’t hold, leave a message, don’t leave a message…we don’t care. Why? Because we don’t have to care – we’re your only real option. Suck it.”