What in the world: Should consumers love or hate Comcast's Time Warner deal?

 
A customer service representative talks on a headset at a Comcast call center in Florida. Critics fear that the Time Warner purchase will mean Comcast's poorly rated customer service will get even worse

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

On Thursday Comcast confirmed that it has reached an agreement to purchase Time Warner Cable for about $45bn (£27bn), which would give the combined company control of three-quarters of the US cable market.

The deal still has to be approved by US government regulators, but early reaction to the announcement has been decidedly split.

The Motley Fool's Alex Planes writes that while the purchase is good for Time Warner shareholders, it's bad for consumers. Both companies already have very poor customer service reviews, he says, and the deal makes matters worse.

Digital Trend's Andrew Couts has a similarly pessimistic view.

"History shows us that this deal will likely stifle competition, slow innovation, reduce content options, shut out potential competitors and boost prices for customers all at once," he writes.

Bloomberg View's Matthew C Klein, on the other hand, thinks consumers may actually benefit, as a larger Comcast will be better able to negotiate with content-producing networks for lower programming costs.

"Saving money on content would allow the enlarged Comcast to improve Internet access and speed - areas in which the US lags behind other rich nations," he writes.

The editors of the Chicago Tribune agree. Although the new Comcast will be a cable giant, they argue in an editorial, it's got plenty of competition from other entertainment sources, which will keep prices down.

"As this diversity of service options rapidly expands, the reflexive distrust of big-company mergers loses its oomph," they write. "In this realm consumers rule: They increasingly have the freedom to abandon any provider that tries to gouge them."

Syria

Neglecting the Kurds - Moderate Kurds in the north-eastern corner of Syria have successfully battled the Syrian government and Islamic extremists, writes Michael Rubin in the Wall Street Journal. The US state department has refused to allow Kurdish representatives into the Geneva peace talks, however. He argues that this is because the US fears angering Turkey, the Kurds aren't co-operating with the leading Syrian opposition, and the Kurds and President Bashar al-Assad's forces currently have a truce. He concludes that these aren't valid reasons for the US to make the "secular, pro-American" Kurds pariahs.

Egypt

Moscow's Egyptian gambit - By clearly backing Egyptian Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Russia is making a serious play to increase its influence over its erstwhile ally, writes BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus. The move puts pressure on the US, he concludes, which must realise that "Cairo has choices and friends elsewhere".

China

Hong Kong's indentured servants - Every year more than 320,000 Indonesian women travel to Hong Kong to work as live-in maids, often in slave-like conditions, writes Gratiane de Moustier in the New York Times. Hong Kong law contributes to this problem, she continues, by allowing companies to garnish the maids' wages to pay for training debts, limiting their movement and permitting less-than-minimum-wage salaries.

Nigeria

Crime and suffering on the Niger Delta - Sabella Abidde in Punch calls the Niger Delta a "major cesspit, the cathedral of immoralities", where despite great natural resources the people live in poverty and gangs run wild. "There can be no peace in a region where the natives are indentured servants even though they are the nation's breadbasket," she writes. "There can be no peace in a region where state governors do nothing but steal and corrupt the political system."

United Kingdom

The US should use British drone missiles - British Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott writes in Defense One that the US and the UK have a long history of military co-operation, dating back to World War Two. In keeping with this spirit, the US Reaper drones should use a British-designed missile, the Dual-Mode Brimstone, which he says is the best on the market. "It makes sense to buy equipment that your allies have already developed, rather than invest millions or billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to duplicate what's already available," he argues.

South Africa

The tragedy of public healthcare - Contentious health care debates aren't the sole province of the US. Leon Louw in Business Daily writes that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has been scapegoating insurance and pharmaceutical companies, private hospitals and poor lifestyle choices to cover up for the failure of the public health system. "The greatest benefactors of humanity, creators of medicines, have been subjected to vicious denunciation by Motsoaledim," he says.

Sudan

A lack of information on malnutrition is jeopardising children - The government of Sudan "has generally done all it can to obscure humanitarian realities in Darfur", writes Smith College Prof Eric Reeves in the Sudan Tribune. He says that UNICEF has been uncooperative in releasing important details on the level of malnutrition among children in Darfur, instead directing all requests to the Sudanese government. He fears that Sudan is withholding the data in order to force international aid organisations to direct more funds to government coffers.

BBC Monitoring quote of the day

Opposition representatives at the Syrian peace talks: "They are not negotiators, they are a delegation defending terrorism on a platform claiming to fight terrorism... If these are the people who will be defending the rights of Syrians, then the Geneva talks are likely to stretch for decades equal to the number of decades our conflict with Israel has been going on because what is certain is that we are dealing with Zionists in Geneva, not with Syrians." - Editorial in the Syrian government's Al-Ba'th newspaper

One more thing…

The real purpose of Valentine's Day - Author Marina Adshade writes in Canada's Globe and Mail that there's more to Valentine's Day than crass commercialism. It provides a useful time to re-evaluate relationships and "assure your romantic partner that all the time and energy that he or she is investing into your relationship is not being wasted". That doesn't mean you have to spend lavishly on your significant other, she concludes, but it's important to show him or her that you understand their needs.

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.

 
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  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    15. Agree, since telecomm companies moved from copper to fiber backbones they have been able to level the bandwidth playing field with Cable TV, and digital streaming is the way of the future for HD signals. However, all of this is because Reagan (Murdoch lobbying) crippled anti-trust and what were common-carrier and broadband entertainment distinctions for ownership evaporated into a greed fest!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    @Chris A
    This is a desperation move from the cable companies. This is not unlike the merger of Sirius and XM. The reality is that there is more ways than ever to get Broadband into your home, and every way quite capable of carrying TV thanks to devices like the Roku/Xbox/PS. Don't be surprised if in the near future you can select from a smorgas board channels you actually watch via Roku et. al.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    @Tony Bolwing
    You should never link your business to your ISP. You should register a legitimate domain name that you own and have control over. It's your own fault for using a residential e-mail address for your business. It might be an expensive lesson to learn but don't make it twice.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    I'm sick of Comcast's horrible customer service and will be cancelling in June is when my contract is up and I will be switching to local provider Astound. Comcast won't let me use Roku to watch streaming programs every other Cable/Satellite provider does and tries to force me to use their crappy streaming. Comcast's only hook was their 50Mbps Internet service, but now there's many providers.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    Placed in a Queue
    Like GCHQ
    Who suck up to NSA
    selling UK out to USA

    We know who sold us toxic instruments and took all our money
    our banking and warring allies who spy on bestest friends and
    talk like phony world leaders

    Only an American can "believe" unbelievable American hype
    Only an American can talk brain numbing platitudes about themseleves

    Others have Class know big talk is sign of soft

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    Who's going to buy shares in Time Warner Cable or Comcast,
    market got hyped & inflated and bubble popped for dot com back in Y2K
    Institutional and Pension funds get blown away with everyone else exposures in savings to let fake market get commissions time and time again. On principle US Tech is a Spy and not touched with a barge pole. It's like buying Israel High Techs should be boycotted avoided

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    IT Technology Telecoms sucks and is sellout of all morals in freedom loving countries. Big Brother is the Devil Controller as prophesied in Book of Revelations

    Don't buy British Drones
    UK sells data and intel for droning innocent civilians based on illegal executions using mobile telephones for tracking devices

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    The only good thing about Time Warner Cable was that it WASN'T Comcast. My options are pretty much gone now if my TWC service goes to crap like Comcast's has been for years.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 8.

    i guess this means i'll have to pay my comcast bill if i ever want cable again.... wait PAY FOR TELEVISION? rotflmfao

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    6. While made a living for decades engineering hardware for the Cable TV folks, have been on satellite for over a decade now and currently pay about 60% of cable rates for a superb HD service with free HD/PVR box! Have not seen a TV ad in ages! Shop around, the deals are out there!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    This is the whittling away of competition in cable services. If there were a real alternative from satellite services. I would definitely swing over. as I suspect would others. Satellite companies, the ball is in your court.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 5.

    Comcast used to "own" the area where I live and have a business. Then TW took over (whatever that means). We ALL had to change our email addresses, both personal & business. This meant changing business cards, brochures, etc. Sometimes I feel like an ant.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 4.

    Doesnt affect me one iota. Why pay to watch TV when you can get it "over the air" for nothing? Been doing it for years and saved thousands of dollars. Money in my pocket instead of scrupulous media corporates feeding their shareholders.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    The big picture has the internet itself in peril from gateway doorkeepers, rapidly consolidating, as here, to control the resource - 'tragedy of the commons' stuff: see Garrett Hardin -
    http://variety.com/2014/biz/news/comcast-tw-cable-merger-changes-the-dynamic-for-fccs-net-neutrality-wrangle-1201102818/
    & http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/507616-fcc-chairman-to-restore-internet-neutrality/

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    Comcast already throttles traffic they (or their partners) don't own, making it impossible to stream non-Comcast approved media. It might say 50Mbps on the ads, but that reduces to under 1Mbps if you dare to try and stream something independent of their mighty net. If enough people only connect via ISPs who deliver net neutrality, maybe they'll all have to provide the service they advertise.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    Have followed Cable Company mergers and service issues for decades - Comcast bought AT&T Cable TV assets which were formerly TCI - the company with the worst customer service record since the 70's. Time Warner Cable was always the best managed company and pushed the envelope on plant technology via dedicated engineers. Consolidation, courtesy Reagan's anti trust elimination, has come to fruition.

 

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