A new Consumer Reports poll shows the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is opposed by 56% of the public.
Only 11 percent of those surveyed support the merger. 56 percent were opposed, and 32 percent had no opinion.
Poll results were released on Thursday prior to an evening hearing on the merger held in Albany, New York by the New York State Public Service Commission. The hearing was the last of three scheduled by the Commission. Only about 20 people attended.
While the New York PSC has no power to stop the merger nationwide, according to attorney for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Brad Ramsey, it could block the deal within New York. Says Ramsey, “Would that require (Comcast) to go back to the drawing board? Well, if it’s central to the synergies in this merger, sure.”
Comments can still be emailed to the Secretary of the New York PSC, Kathleen H. Burgess, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You do not have to be a New York resident for your comments to be accepted, but they will become part of the public record.
The online survey was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center from April 22 – 29. 1,573 individuals participated, with recruitment quotas approximating a nationally representative sample.
Per Consumers Union policy counsel, Delara Derakhshan:
Most Americans don’t have time to follow complicated corporate mergers but this deal has definitely captured the public’s attention. Consumers are tired of rising monthly bills and lousy customer service for cable and internet and have little faith that this mega merger will make things any better. Comcast and Time Warner Cable have consistently scored poorly when it comes to customer satisfaction so it’s no surprise that Americans are skeptical of this proposed deal. Most consumers expect the merger will turn things from bad to worse.
The Consumers Union is the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.
The poll was in response to Comcast’s February 13 announcement of its proposed $45.2 billion deal to merge with Time Warner Cable. Comcast is the largest cable and broadband provider in the U.S. Time Warner is number two in cable and the third largest broadband provider. If approved, the deal would allow Comcast to control over two-thirds of the country’s cable television access, and almost 40 percent of its high-speed internet.
Amongst the benefits of the merger, Comcast lists:
Cost savings and other efficiencies that will ultimately benefit customers.
Increased investment in high-speed data services.
Increased ability to offer advanced services like high-performance point-to-point and multi-point Ethernet services.
Complementary advertising platforms and channels that will allow Comcast to offer broader and more valuable packages to advertisers.
Comcast also says that no competitors will be forced from the market, as its service doesn’t overlap with Time Warner’s.
Other poll findings, predicated on the merger being approved, are:
74 percent believe it will result in overall internet and cable prices.
The same percentage believe consumers will have fewer choices for cable and internet providers.
66 percent believe Comcast will have little incentive to improve customer service.
54 percent thought customer satisfaction will get worse.
81 percent thought Comcast’s increased market share will enable it to favor its own programming.
16 percent believed Comcast would operate more efficiently, with the merger resulting in lower prices.
The most recent Consumer Reports survey of consumer experiences with television and internet service ranked Comcast 15th amongst the 17 cable providers included in the ratings. Time Warner ranked 16th. Both companies received especially poor marks for value, and low ratings for phone/online customer support.