Cable TV

Comcast, TWC likely to close acquisition deal

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MUMBAI: Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp are likely to close an acquisition deal that could be worth $58 billion. It is learnt that the duo are in informal discussion for the same.

Several pay TV operators have showed interest in acquiring Time Warner Cable. While so far it was Charter Communications that was eyeing the operator, now several media reports are hinting towards a possible acquisition by Comcast.

Charter has been on the hunt for an acquisition, as John Malone, who controls 27 per cent in the company through Liberty Global, looks to bootstrap Charter's growth. With 4.3 million subscribers, mergers and acquisitions has become an ongoing strategy for Charter. It should be noted that earlier in the year, Charter bought Optimum West from Cablevision for $1.6 billion.

Media reports suggest that Comcast and Charter could, however, buy Time Warner Cable together, and divide its holdings, as they did with Adelphia Communications back in 2006. Comcast could take the New York City operation and gain a more valuable presence there, while Charter could gain dominance in LA.

Consolidation in the cable industry is likely as MSOs look to gain enough size to have a card to play against content owners regarding programming costs considering that no media company could be economically viable if they lose 33 per cent of the country's pay-TV subscribers.

One way or another, TWC will likely be bought by someone. It lost 306,000 video subscribers in the third quarter after a month-long blackout of CBS and Showtime in a retransmission dispute.

TWC currently has 11 million customers, and Comcast has 21 million; together, they would serve about a third of the nation's pay-TV subscribers.

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